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StatsCan: Farms Getting Larger, Farmers Getting Older

By Amanda Brodhagen,

A new report released by Statistics Canada says the number of farms in Canada is dropping, while the average age of a farmer continues to grow.

The report entitled “Canadian Agriculture at a Glance,” was based on data from the 2011 agricultural census.

Statistics Canada said that while the number of farms is on the decline, farm size is increasing. The agency found that since 1991, the average farm size increased from 198 acres to 778 acres. Over the same period, there were 205,730 farms in 2011, a decline of 74,000 since 1991.

The data showed that the average age of farmers increased from 47.5 to 54 years of age. More than half of the farm operators in 2011 were over the age of 55, which is up from 38 per cent in 1991.

“The trends of fewer operators and fewer farms show no signs of reversing and could indicate significant turnover in farm assets in the future,” the report said.

Farms with the oldest operator (55 years or older) were “prominent in all provinces,” but it increased more than 20 percent in British Columbia, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. The average age of farm operators increased from 47.5 to 54 years of age, with more than half of all farms in 2001 had operators over the age of 55.

“The topic of farmer demographics is an area that may benefit from further data and further study,” the report concluded.  

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