Com­pe­ti­tion keeps farms ex­pand­ing

The Glengarry News - - The Classified­s -

While the mod­ern farm op­er­a­tors may still live at their agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions, farm­ing has evolved into an in­no­va­tive ca­reer choice re­quir­ing knowl­edge of busi­ness man­age­ment and tech­nol­ogy, as well as the agri­cul­tural sciences.

Driven by com­pe­ti­tion and aided by tech­nol­ogy, the num­ber of Canadian agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions is de­creas­ing and the agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions that re­main are larger and more cap­i­tal in­ten­sive.

The 2016 Cen­sus of Agri­cul­ture recorded 193,492 agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions, down 5.9 per cent from 2011, and 271,935 farm op­er­a­tors, a de­cline of 7.5 per cent.

While there are fewer agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions and farm op­er­a­tors, agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions are getting larger and us­ing more of Canada’s avail­able agri­cul­tural land to grow crops. The area of crop­land in­creased by 6.9 per cent from 2011 to 93.4 mil­lion acres in 2016.

The av­er­age age of a Canadian farmer in­creased from 54.0 to 55.0 years from 2011 to 2016, with farm­ers aged 55 to 59 ac­count­ing for the largest share of farm op­er­a­tors. How­ever, the num­ber of op­er­a­tors un­der the age of 35 in­creased by 3.0 per cent from 2011 to 2016, de­spite the total num­ber of op­er­a­tors de­creas­ing. This is the first time that there has been an in­crease in this age cat­e­gory since 1991.

Young farm­ers more likely to rent land

In 2016 the av­er­age value of land and build­ings was $2,696 per acre, which is an in­crease of 38.8 per cent from 2011.

This cost is ever in­creas­ing, and can be a barrier to start­ing or ex­pand­ing an agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tion. The ma­jor­ity of farm­land was owned in 2016, but it is a smaller pro­por­tion of total farm­land than it was in 2006.

Over time, farm­ers have in­creased their farm size through the use of land that they do not own. This in­cludes rent­ing land, crop shar­ing and leas­ing land from gov­ern­ments. Start­ing or grow­ing an agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tion re­quires a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment, and choos­ing to rent land can be a more flex­i­ble and less cap­i­tal-in­ten­sive way for farm­ers to es­tab­lish their op­er­a­tions.

The total area rented from oth­ers was 40.1 mil­lion acres in 2016, in­clud­ing land rented from other farm op­er­a­tors or from non- oper­at­ing land­lords. Of agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions where all op­er­a­tors were un­der the age of 35, 50.6 per cent rented land from oth­ers, com­pared with 35.1 per cent of all agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions. On agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions that used only rented land, the av­er­age op­er­a­tor age was 46.0 years, 9 years younger than the na­tional av­er­age.

An­other way farm­ers ac­quire land is through crop- shar­ing, which to­talled 4.5 mil­lion acres in 2016. This prac­tice in­volves both the landowner and the farmer shar­ing in the risk and the re­wards from the crop har­vested from the land.

Some farm­ers opt to lease land from the gov­ern­ment. Crown land is of­ten used to pas­ture an­i­mals. In some prov­inces such as Bri­tish Columbia and Al­berta, Crown land can be paid for based on the num­ber of an­i­mals a farmer or rancher in­tends to pas­ture in­stead of pay­ing for a spe­cific num­ber of acres. Land leased from gov­ern­ments to­talled 21.2 mil­lion acres in 2016.

More women op­er­a­tors

There were 271,935 farm op­er­a­tors in 2016 and al­most three-quar­ters of them were male (71.3 per cent). How­ever, the pro­por­tion of fe­male farm op­er­a­tors in­creased from 27.4 per cent in 2011 to 28.7 per cent in 2016, con­tin­u­ing the long-term trend since 1991 when they ac­counted for 25.7 per cent of farm op­er­a­tors.

From 2011 to 2016, the pro­por­tion of agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions with only male op­er­a­tors de­creased from 61.4 per cent to 60.1 per cent, while the pro­por­tion of agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions with only fe­male op­er­a­tors in­creased from 5.6 per cent to 7.2 per cent. This is a shift from 1991 when 64.7 per cent of op­er­a­tions had only male op­er­a­tors and 3.9 per cent of op­er­a­tions had only fe­male op­er­a­tors. In 2016, 32.7 per cent of agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions had at least one male and one fe­male op­er­a­tor, up from 31.4 per cent in 1991.

In 2010, 40.1 per cent of op­er­a­tors worked more than 40 hours per week on the farm, while 31.5 per cent worked less than 20 hours per week. By com­par­i­son, in 2015, 37.5 per cent of op­er­a­tors worked more than 40 hours and 32.7 per cent worked less than 20 hours per week on the farm. This varied by age group in 2015, when 41.1 per cent of op­er­a­tors un­der the age of 35 worked more than 40 hours per week, com­pared with 28.3 per cent of op­er­a­tors aged 70 or older.

Not only did the num­ber of op­er­a­tors work­ing more than 40 hours on the farm de­crease, but the share of op­er­a­tors work­ing off the farm de­creased from 46.9 per cent to 44.4 per cent. This also varied by age group in 2015, when 58.2 per cent of op­er­a­tors un­der the age of 35 worked off the farm, com­pared with 14.6 per cent of op­er­a­tors aged 70 or older.

In 2015, the total num­ber of agri­cul­tural em­ploy­ees was down 5.8 per cent com­pared with 2010. There has been a shift to­wards hir­ing year- round em­ploy­ees (full-time and part-time) in place of sea­sonal and tem­po­rary em­ploy­ees.

There were 193,492 agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions cov­er­ing 158.7 mil­lion acres in 2016, with an av­er­age farm size of 820 acres.

In 1971, there were 366,110 agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions cov­er­ing 169.7 mil­lion acres, with an av­er­age farm size of 463 acres.

From 1971 to 2016, the num­ber of agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tions in Canada de­creased by 47.1 per cent and the total farm area de­creased by 6.4 per cent.

De­spite the de­crease in total farm area, the total area of crop­land in­creased from 68.8 mil­lion acres in 1971 to 93.4 mil­lion acres in 2016.

The av­er­age num­ber of acres of crop­land per agri­cul­tural op­er­a­tion in­creased from 425 in 2011 to 483 in 2016. Crop­land ac­counted for 58.8 per cent of total farm area in 2016. The total area used for pas­ture (nat­u­ral or seeded) de­clined by 4.4 per cent as farm­ers switched from live­stock pro­duc­tion to crops.

From 2011 to 2016, the total area of land seeded us­ing no-till tech­nol­ogy in­creased by 16.8 per cent to 48.2 mil­lion acres.

Aug. 10 there will be no Tea Talk due to the Wil­liamstown Fair. But the Wine and Cheese is soon up­com­ing. It will be held Wed­nes­day, Aug. 23 from 7-9 p.m. at the mu­seum.

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