The number of farms in the province dropped by almost 10 per cent
By Diego Flammini
British Columbia lost almost 10 per cent of its farms over a five-year period.
The 2021 Census of Agriculture counted 15,841 farms compared to 17,528 in 2016.
That means B.C. lost 1,687 farms during that time, or an average of 337 farms each year between the two censuses.
The total farm area in B.C. also fell.
In 2021, British Columbia farmers produced food on 5,648,160 acres, with each farm averaging 357 acres.
In 2016, B.C. producers worked on 6,400,549 acres, and a farm averaged 365 acres.
This change means farmers produced food on 752,389 fewer acres in 2021 than they did in 2016.
To put that loss into context, Samoa’s entire area is about 702,273 acres.
One area of increase in B.C. is the amount of land used for crop production.
B.C. farmers produced crops in 93.38 million acres in 2016. In 2021, that number increased slightly to 93.56 million acres.
The 2021 census also collected data on succession plans.
Of the 15,841 B.C. farms, 11,364 farms, or nearly 72 per cent of operations, indicated having no succession plan.
Only 1,530 farms, or about 10 per cent, reported having a written succession plan, while another 2,947 operations, or roughly 18 per cent, reported having a verbal succession plan in place.
B.C. saw the overall number of farmers decline between the 2016 and 2021 censuses of agriculture.
The census recorded 23,680 operators in 2021, compared to 26,430 in 2016.
The number of male operators dropped from 16,515 in 2016 to 14,290 in 2021. And the number of female operators also fell. From 9,925 in 2016 to 9,390 in 2021.
The average age of a B.C. farmer has increased.
In 2016 the average B.C. farmer was 56.3 years old. In 2021 that number was 57.8.