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Canadian Youth Moving Away Put Family Farms in Jeopardy

BMO Survey Reveals Negative Impact from Youth Moving Away from the Family Farm

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The negative impact of youth moving away from the family farm is felt whether you live in the city or in the country. The Bank of Montreal released a new report today revealing that Canadians feel that there is a significant negative social-economic impact on the family farm as a result of the disturbing trend of rural youth leaving the farm and moving into urban centers. The survey asked Canadians what they feel are the challenges facing farm operators today.

The survey revealed the following:

• Family farms: 62 per cent saw a negative impact on family farms

• Transfer of Knowledge: 61 per cent believe the migration impacts the ability of farmers to transfer knowledge to the next generation

• Rural Way of Life: 55 per cent believe the move of young people from rural to urban areas has a negative impact on the 'rural way of life'

One would think that this impact would be expressed higher in the rural areas but the study found that the concerns were expressed equally among the rural and urban respondents. The ripple effect of this trend translates into dwindling numbers of young agriculture producers carrying on the tradition of farming. This is problematic as it continues to widen the gap between rural and urban centers leaving a burden on the food system. The survey also reflects similar trends from Statistics Canada’s findings that the total percentage of farmers declined from 9.1 per cent in 2006 to 8.2 per cent last year under the age of 35.

"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.

Agriculture is unique in the sense that it’s the only industry that touches everyone’s life. This study brings to light an issue that the sector will need to address in order to save the family farm while meeting the demands to produce food for a growing global population.


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