Statistics Canada has released its first segment of a weekly analytical series that focuses on The 2016 Census of Agriculture.

The first weekly analytical series, “A portrait of a 21st century agricultural operation,” focuses on the age and gender of the average Canadian farm operator today, the business of farming, as well as the number of farm operations and acres of cropland.

The Age and Gender of Farm Operators

The 2016 Census of Agriculture recorded the number of agricultural operations decreased 5.9% from 2011, and now sits at 193,492. The number of farm operators decreased by 7.5% from 2011, and now sits at 271,935.

The average age of the Canadian farmer increased from 54.0 to 55.0 years from 2011 to 2016, with farmers aged 55 to 59 accounting for the largest share of farm operators. But despite the total number of operators decreasing, the number of operators under the age of 35 increased by 3.0% from 2011 to 2016 – the first time there has been an increase in this age category since 1991.

Along with the number of younger operators increasing, the number of female operators is also on the rise. The proportion of female farm operators increased from 27.4% in 2011 to 28.7% in 2016, which continues the long-term trend since 1991 when they accounted for 25.7% of farm operators.

The number of agricultural operations with only female operators under the age of 35 is growing at a faster rate than those with only male operators under the age of 35.  Only male operators under the age of 35 increased by 24.4% from 2011 to 8,734 in 2016. The number of only female operators under 35 rose by 113.3% to 1,045.

Operations and Production

The number of agricultural operations in Canada has decreased by 47.1% from 1971 to 2016, with a total farm area decrease of 6.4%. Despite this, the total area of cropland has increased from 68.8 million acres in 1971 to 93.4 million acres in 2016, which was the largest area of cropland on record for the Census of Agriculture.

The average number of acres of cropland per agricultural operation increased from 425 in 2011 to 483 in 2016, with cropland accounting for 58.8% of total farm area in 2016.  

Click here to read the full report from the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

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