Canadian farms percentage drops due to many challenges
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%.