Cana­dian farms per­cent­age drops due to many chal­lenges

Stanstead Journal - - TOWN­SHIP'S TAGRI­CUL­TURE -

The beef in­dus­try is de­clin­ing. In 2006, beef farms rep­re­sented 26.6% of all Cana­dian farms; in 2011 that per­cent­age has dropped to 18.2%. Rea­sons given in­clude the many chal­lenges faced by the beef farm­ers since the BSE (mad cow dis­ease) out­break in 2003 such as the Coun­try of Ori­gin La­bel­ing (COOL) law in the United States, ris­ing feed costs, and the strong Cana­dian dol­lar. The num­ber of beef cat­tle for breed­ing pur­poses has de­creased by 22.3% since 2006 while the num­ber of cat­tle for feed­ing and slaugh­ter has de­creased by 16.1%.

The num­ber of dairy cows in Canada de­creased by 3.4% although it has not af­fected pro­duc­tion; the cows are “more ef­fi­cient”, pro­duc­ing more milk. Dairy farms are get­ting larger; the num­ber of farms has de­creased by 15%. Que­bec has 37.4% (359,686) of all the dairy cows in Canada (961,726).

The num­ber of pigs has de­creased while poul­try farms are con­sol­i­dat­ing and get­ting big­ger. The num­ber of farms pro­duc­ing “other crops” (hay, maple, fruit or veg­eta­bles), oilseed and grain, and sheep and goats has in­creased. The to­tal area of land used to grow veg­eta­bles for pro­cess­ing has de­creased as a re­sult of in­creased im­ports. The area of green­house pro­duc­tion has in­creased by 4.2%.

The to­tal area of land used to grow fruit has in­creased by 14.7%; 56.1% of that in­crease has been for blue­ber­ries alone. Blue­berry pro­duc­tion is up 38.1 %, from 2006. The area of wild blue­berry pro­duc­tion in Que­bec in­creased by 60.7 %. Cran­berry pro­duc­tion is also on the rise, sur­pass- ing in area straw­ber­ries, peaches and rasp­ber­ries. The area in Que­bec used to grow cran­ber­ries more than dou­bled in Que­bec, in­creas­ing by 112.1%.

Maple taps in­creased by 16.7%, grow­ing to 44.4 mil­lion taps. 91.4% of those taps are in Que­bec.

Or­ganic farms are up 4.4% from 2006 and a whop­ping 66.5% from the cen­sus taken in 2001. There were a to­tal of 3,713 cer­ti­fied or­ganic farms in 2011; sev­eral hun­dred more were in a ‘tran­si­tion’ phase.

Al­most half of Cana­dian farm­ers are 55 years of age or older. In 2006, 40.7% were older than 55; in 2011 that per­cent­age is 48.3%. In 2006, 9.1% of farm­ers were un­der 35 years of age; in 2011, 8.2% are less than 35. Que­bec has the high­est per­cent­age na­tion­ally of farm­ers un­der 35: 10.9%.

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