Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Farms getting bigger as farmers getting older, Statscan says

A report released by Statistics Canada says the number of farms in Canada is dropping, while their size is growing along with the age of the people running them.

CHRIS BOLIN/The Globe and Mail

A report released by Statistics Canada shows the number of farms in Canada is dropping, while their size is growing along with the age of the people running them.

The agency, which looked at the makeup of the industry based on data from the 2011 agricultural census, says there were 205,730 farms in 2011 – a decline of more than 74,000 since 1991.

Its report released Tuesday also says the average farm area increased from 80 hectares to 315 hectares.

Story continues below advertisement

Report author and agriculture analyst Martin Beaulieu said one reason for larger farms is that they are being consolidated as older operators retire.

"Unless there's [a] big reverse in terms of the younger farmers going into agriculture, these trends are more than likely to continue," Mr. Beaulieu said in a phone interview from Ottawa.

The report, entitled Canadian Agriculture at a Glance, says the number of farm operators fell from 390,875 to 293,925 – a 24.8-per-cent drop between 1991 and 2011.

Over the same period, the average age of farmers increased from 47.5 to 54 years. The data shows more than half of all farms in 2011 had operators over the age of 55 – up from less than 38 per cent in 1991.

There were also fewer farmers under the age of 40. Statistics Canada said less than one out of 10 farms were run by someone under 40, whereas two decades earlier it was about one in four.

The proportion of farms where the oldest operator was 55 years or older increased by more than 20 percentage points in British Columbia, the Atlantic provinces and Quebec, the report said. But it also said the increase in the proportion was "significant in all provinces."

"That's one of the main reasons for this article is to look a bit deeper in the data and see if it could isolate this trend to a specific province or a specific farm type or farm size," said Mr. Beaulieu.

Story continues below advertisement

"But, over all, you see that it's a trend that touches all provinces and some to a greater extent, for example British Columbia or the Atlantic provinces, but still they're not that far from the national average or national proportion."

Report an error Licensing Options
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Globe Newsletters

Get a summary of news of the day

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.