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BMO Farm Survey: Canadians in the Prairies Concerned About Youth Migration From Farms

A new report released shows that 66 per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents believe the migration of young people from rural to urban centers has a negative impact on the family farm.


June 26, 2012
By BMO

A new report released today by BMO Bank of Montreal shows that 66 per cent of Manitoba and Saskatchewan residents surveyed believe the migration of young people from rural to urban centers has a negative impact on the family farm. This concern is expressed by urban dwellers to the same extent as rural dwellers – and sometimes more.

According to migration trends from Statistics Canada, rural areas have experienced a net reduction of young people under the age of 25. Furthermore, based on the Census of Agriculture, farm operators under the age of 35, as a percentage of total farmers, declined from 9.1 per cent in 2006 to 8.2 per cent last year.

In addition to the negative impact on the family farm, Prairie residents surveyed also responded that youth migration has had significant negative consequences on the:

  • Transfer of knowledge to next generation (63 per cent)
  • Supply of labour (62 per cent);
  • Rural economy (62 per cent);
  • Rural way of life (61 per cent); and
  • Agriculture sector (58 per cent).

“A farm is more than a business; it’s vital to Canada’s economic strength, and this survey highlights the value Canadians place on family farms being able to survive and prosper,” said David Rinneard, National Manager, Agriculture, BMO Bank of Montreal. “BMO has been a major supporter of the agriculture industry and has committed $10 billion in additional credit over the next three years to businesses across Canada.”

“It is easy enough to take agriculture for granted when you have a grocery store full of food, but to sustain this, we need young people in agriculture. A main area of focus for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is intergenerational transfers and building long-term profitability into farming operations,” said CFA President Ron Bonnett. “BMO’s study shows all Canadians are sharing similar concerns and recognize the importance of the sector, and this is encouraging. Broad public support is what’s needed to secure the future of our farms and food,” added Mr. Bonnet.

Survey results cited are from online interviews with a random sample of 1,011 Canadians 18 years of age and over, conducted by Pollara between May 18 and May 23. A probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/-3.1per cent, 19 times out of 20.