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Sharp decline in number of farms in Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada

Introduction
Farm size
Farm receipts
Farm type
Computer use
Organic farming
Other highlights of Atlantic Canada agriculture

Newfoundland and Labrador

Farm numbers and farm size
Farm receipts
Farm type

Prince Edward Island

Farm numbers and farm size
Farm receipts
Farm type
Other highlights of Prince Edward Island agriculture

Nova Scotia

Farm numbers and farm size
Farm receipts
Farm type
Other highlights of Nova Scotia agriculture

New Brunswick

Farm numbers and farm size
Farm receipts
Farm type
Other highlights of New Brunswick agriculture

Sharp decline in number of farms in Atlantic Canada, according to 2001 Census of Agriculture

The number of census farms in Atlantic Canada declined sharply between 1996 and 2001, continuing a long-term trend.

The 2001 Census of Agriculture counted 9,445 census farms in Atlantic Canada, a 12.7% decline during the past five years. This was slightly stronger than the 10.7% decrease at the national level. The number of farms in Atlantic Canada has decreased 27.0% from 12,941 in 1981. (A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.)

In 2001, the four Atlantic provinces accounted for about 4% of Canada’s total of 246,923 farms, virtually unchanged from 1996. The number of farms declined in all four provinces.

The decline was strongest in Prince Edward Island, where the number of farms fell 16.8% to 1,845, the largest percentage decrease in the nation.

Prince Edward Island was followed by Newfoundland and Labrador, with a 13.3% decline to 643 farms; Nova Scotia was down 11.9% to 3,923; and New Brunswick was down 10.9% to 3,034.

Proportionally, Nova Scotia had 42% of farms in Atlantic Canada, the largest share. New Brunswick had 32%, Prince Edward Island, about 20%, and Newfoundland and Labrador, 7%.

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Farm size

While the overall number of farms in Atlantic Canada has been declining, the size in terms of farm size, herd sizes and gross farm receipts has been increasing. The average farm in Atlantic Canada was 287 acres in 2001, up from 256 acres in 1996 and 233 acres in 1981.

Between 1996 and 2001, Atlantic Canada’s total farm area has declined 2.2% to 2,711,140 acres. This was well below the level of just over 3 million acres reported in the 1981 Census. The four Atlantic provinces accounted for only 2% of Canada’s total farm area in 2001, unchanged from 1996.

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Farm receipts

The Atlantic’s total gross farm receipts were $1.4 billion in 2000, while operating expenses reached $1.2 billion. While factors such as the commodities they produced, the prices they received and the weather they had to deal with made each farmer’s situation different, in general, expenses rose slightly faster that revenues. Five years earlier, at 1995 prices, receipts were $1.1 billion and expenses were $967 million. (The 2001 Census collected information on gross receipts and expenses for 2000.)

Over the five-year period, prices farmers received for their products increased 4.1%, while prices they paid for expenses such as fertilizer and fuel increased by 8.8%. Farmers, squeezed by relative increasing costs, had to increase farm productivity to keep the ratio of receipts-to-expenses favourable.

In 2000 in Atlantic Canada, the ratio of operating expenses to gross farm receipts was 0.85:1; in other words, 85 cents of operating expenses were spent for every dollar received in gross farm receipts. This is virtually unchanged since 1995. (Expenses collected on the census do not include depreciation.)

Farms in Atlantic Canada are getting larger in terms of gross farm receipts. On Census Day, 1,397 farms, or 15% of the total, had gross receipts of $250,000 or more. They accounted for 78% of Atlantic gross farm receipts. This compares to 1995, when these larger farms represented 12% of farms and 70% of receipts.

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Farm type

Cattle farms are the most common types of farms in the Atlantic accounting for 23.9% of all farms, followed by fruit farms with 14.0% and dairy farms with 11.5%. Since 1996, the livestock-based farms have reduced their shares slightly while fruit farms increased their shares.

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Computer use

The proportion of Atlantic Canada farms using a computer as a management tool increased between 1996 and 2001. About 35% of farmers in the Atlantic region were using a computer in the management of their farm business in 2001, compared with 19% in 1996.

In 2001, 77% of farmers used computers for bookkeeping, 68% for surfing the Internet, while about 63% used them for e-mail – 80% used it for more than one application.

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Organic farming

For the first time, farmers were able to report on their census forms that they produced certified organic commodities. (In Canada, a farmer who wishes to become "certified organic" must apply to a recognized certification agency.)

A total of 74 farms in Atlantic Canada produced certified organic products for sale in 2001, less than 1% of the region’s total. About 34% of these farms were in New Brunswick, while 31% were in each of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

Fruits, vegetables or greenhouse products were the most common certified organic commodities produced in Atlantic Canada, being reported by 76% of organic farms.

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Other highlights of Atlantic Canada agriculture:

In 2001, 1,105 Atlantic farms reported growing potatoes, down from 1,451 in 1996. During the same period, farmers planted about 3,200 more acres, for a total of 170,998. Since 1981, total potato acreage in Atlantic Canada has risen 39.6%.

Atlantic Canada accounted for 41% of Canada’s potato growing area, down from 45% in 1996. Prince Edward Island farmers grew 106,889 acres of potatoes in 2001, down 1.2% since 1996. Prince Edward Island’s potato area is the largest in Canada accounting for 26% of the Canadian total.

Atlantic farmers grew 67,198 acres of blueberries in 2001, up 26.9% from 1996. This represented about 62% of Canada’s total blueberry growing area. Farmers in Nova Scotia reported 37,508 acres of blueberries in 2001. That was 56% of the Atlantic Canada’s total and 35% of Canada’s entire crop, the largest share of any province.

The Christmas tree area in Atlantic Canada fell by 20.8% since the last census to 31,569 acres in 2001. Nova Scotia accounted for the bulk of the area, with 74%.

Sheep and lamb numbers rose 14.4% between 1996 and 2001 to 45,974 – each of the four Atlantic provinces saw increases over the period.

The number of pigs also increased in Atlantic Canada – up 19.4% to 390,695 pigs in 2001. The expansion was driven by increases in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, as Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador both experienced declines since 1996.

Total cattle and calves were down 11.5% in the Atlantic provinces between 1996 and 2001. Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province of the four to experience an increase in the cattle herd since 1996. Nova Scotia was the largest contributor to the Atlantic total, with 37% of the region’s cattle herd.

Attached to this press release is a profile of agriculture in the four Atlantic provinces.

A full statistical portrait of Canadian agriculture is available on Statistics Canada’s Website (/) through The Daily, the Agency’s official release bulletin.

This press release contains data for the province, census agricultural region (CAR), census division (CD) levels only. The data for the lowest level of geography, census consolidated subdivision (CCS), will be available on June 12, 2002.

Statistics Canada thanks the Atlantic farming community for participating in the 2001 Census of Agriculture.

For more information on this release, contact Gaye Ward (613 951-3172), Census of Agriculture, or Media Relations (613 951-4636).

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Newfoundland and Labrador

Farm numbers and farm size

  • The census counted 643 farms in Newfoundland and Labrador, down 13.3% from 1996. This follows a slight increase of 2.3% during the previous five-year period. Since 1981, farm numbers have declined 5% in the province.
  • Farmers had 100,271 acres of farmland, down 7.4% since 1996. Nonetheless, the average size of farms rose from 146 acres in 1996 to 156 acres in 2001. Land devoted to crops rose by 17.5% to 20,843 acres in 2001.

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Farm receipts

  • Newfoundland and Labrador’s total gross farm receipts were $90 million in 2000, while operating expenses reached $79 million. While factors such as the commodities they produced, the prices they received and the weather they had to deal with made each farmer’s situation different, in general, expenses rose slightly faster than revenues. Five years earlier, at 1995 prices, receipts were $76 million and expenses were $67 million. (The 2001 Census collected information on gross receipts and expenses for 2000.)
  • In 2000 in Newfoundland and Labrador, the ratio of operating expenses to gross farm receipts was 0.87:1; in other words, 87 cents of operating expenses were spent for every dollar received in gross farm receipts. This compares to 1995 when the ratio was 0.88:1. (Expenses collected on the census do not include depreciation.)
  • Only 67 farms reported gross receipts of $250,000 or more, down 16.3%. Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province in Atlantic Canada to report a decline in the number of such farms. These larger farms accounted for 80% of gross farm receipts reported for the province in 2000.

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Farm type

  • Vegetable operations accounted for 13.5% of all farms in the province, the largest share. Greenhouse operations represented 12.8%; dairy farms, 9.3%; and cattle farms, 8.9%.

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Prince Edward Island

Farm numbers and farm size

  • The census counted 1,845 farms in Prince Edward Island in 2001, down from 2,217 in 1996. Farm numbers declined in all three counties. In Prince County, they fell 18.2% to 618. In Queens County, they were down 16.8% to 905, and in Kings County, down 13.7% to 322.
  • Farmers reported 646,137 acres in farmland, a 1.4% decline. However, total cropland rose 3.0% to 433,641 acres. The average farm size increased from 296 acres in 1996 to 350 acres in 2001.

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Farm receipts

  • Prince Edward Island’s total gross farm receipts were $396 million in 2000, while operating expenses reached $338 million. While factors such as the commodities they produced, the prices they received and the weather they had to deal with made each farmer’s situation different, in general, expenses rose slightly faster that revenues. Five years earlier, at 1995 prices, receipts were $349 million and expenses were $289 million. (The 2001 Census collected information on gross receipts and expenses for 2000.)
  • In 2000 in Prince Edward Island, the ratio of operating expenses to gross farm receipts was 0.85:1; in other words, 85 cents of operating expenses were spent for every dollar received in gross farm receipts. This compares to 1995 when the ratio was 0.83:1. (Expenses collected on the census do not include depreciation.)
  • A total of 866 farms reported gross receipts of less than $50,000 in 2000, a 27.8% decline. These farms represented 46.9% of the farms and 3.4% of gross farm receipts reported for 2000 in Prince Edward Island. A total of 433 farms reported gross receipts of $250,000 or more, up 14.9%. They accounted for 24% of farms and 80% of gross farm receipts on the Island.
  • The number of farms with gross receipts greater than $250,000 increased 11.3% in Kings County, 19.1% in Queens County, and 1.1% in Prince County. The number of farms in all other sales brackets declined in all three counties.

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Farm type

  • Cattle farms accounted for 26% of all Prince Edward Island farms in 2001, potato farms, 19%, and dairy farms, 17%.

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Other highlights of Prince Edward Island agriculture:

  • A total of 468 farms reported growing potatoes in 2001, down 28.2% from five years earlier. Prince Edward Island farmers planted 106,889 acres of potatoes in 2001, down 1.2% from 1996. However, since 1981 total potato acreage on Prince Edward Island has soared by 67.3%. In 2001, Potatoes accounted for one-quarter of the Island’s total cropland. Prince County farmers had about 55% of the Island’s total potato acreage.
  • While total cattle and calves were down 10.4% to 84,791 head in 2001, sheep numbers increased by 19.8% to 3,589 head and pig numbers increased by 7.2% to 126,065 head.

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Nova Scotia

Farm numbers and farm size

  • The census counted 3,923 farms in Nova Scotia in 2001, down 11.9% from 4,453 five years earlier. Three out of every ten (31%) are in the Annapolis Valley and surrounding area, while 29% are in central Nova Scotia, the two most intensively farmed regions in the province.
  • There were about 1 million acres of farmland in Nova Scotia in 2001, down 4.7% from 1996. However, the land devoted to crops rose by 6.1% in the same period to account for 294,596 acres in 2001. Average farm size rose from 237 acres in 1996 to 256 acres in 2001.

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Farm receipts

  • Nova Scotia’s total gross farm receipts were $460 million in 2000, while operating expenses reached $389 million. While factors such as the commodities they produced, the prices they received and the weather they had to deal with made each farmer’s situation different, in general, expenses rose slightly faster that revenues. Five years earlier, at 1995 prices, receipts were $384 million and expenses were $328 million. (The 2001 Census collected information on gross receipts and expenses for 2000.)

  • In 2000 in Nova Scotia, the ratio of operating expenses to gross farm receipts was 0.84:1; in other words, 84 cents of operating expenses were spent for every dollar received in gross farm receipts. This compares to 1995 when the ratio was 0.85:1. (Expenses collected on the census do not include depreciation.)
  • A total of 2,789 farms reported gross receipts of less than $50,000, down 14.6% from 1995. These farms represented 71% of farms and 8% of gross farm receipts. On the other hand, 466 farms reported gross receipts of more than $250,000, an 8.4% increase. They accounted for 12% of farms and 75% of the gross farm receipts reported for the year 2000 in Nova Scotia.
  • In the Annapolis Valley and surrounding area, just over one-half (52%) of all farms reported gross receipts of less than $25,000, while 18% reported gross receipts of more than $250,000.

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Farm type

  • The most common type of farm in Nova Scotia in 2001 was cattle (beef) farms, representing 23% of all farms. Fruit farms were next, with 20% and other horticultural specialty farms (primarily Christmas tree farms) ranked third with 10%.

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Other highlights of Nova Scotia agriculture:

  • Nova Scotia’s fruit growing area expanded between 1996 and 2001, continuing a long-term trend. Farmers had 46,084 acres in fruit production in 2001, up from 40,422 five years earlier.
  • However, the area in apples continues to decline, also reflecting the national trend. Farmers had 6,546 acres of apple orchards in 2001, down 18.9% from 1996. Apple production is concentrated in the Annapolis Valley and surrounding area, with the vast majority of orchards (86%) in Kings County. Orchards there have declined 19.6% to 5,650 acres.
  • In contrast, farmers had 37,508 acres of blueberries under cultivation, up from 30,272 acres in 1996. Nova Scotia is Canada’s largest producer of blueberries, producing 35% of the nation’s crop. Blueberries accounted for 81% of Nova Scotia’s total fruit acreage. In Cumberland County, where 57% of blueberries are cultivated, the blueberry area has increased 25.1% to 21,244 acres.
  • Christmas tree area fell to 23,450 acres in 2001 – a decline of 18.1% since 1996. The 535 Nova Scotia farms producing Christmas trees was one-third fewer than the last census. Nova Scotia had more area devoted to Christmas tree production than any other province in Canada in 2001 – Ontario ranked second and Quebec was a very close third. In 1996, Nova Scotia ranked second, behind Quebec for largest area of Christmas trees.
  • There were 24,896 sheep in Nova Scotia on Census Day, up 5.9% from 1996. However, the number of pigs and cattle declined in the province. Pigs were down by 4.4% since 1996 to 124,935 head, while a 15.9% decline in the cattle herd left 108,401 head in the province in 2001.

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New Brunswick

Farm numbers and farm size

  • The census counted 3,034 farms in New Brunswick in 2001, down 10.9% from 1996. About 63% are in the southwestern region of the province, 24% in eastern New Brunswick, and 14% in the northerly region. Since 1981, farm numbers have declined 25.3%.
  • There were 958,899 acres of farmland in New Brunswick in 2001, up 0.5% since 1996. Area devoted to crops rose 10.3% since 1996 to 367,898 acres. Average farm size rose from 280 acres in 1996 to 316 acres in 2001.

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Farm receipts

  • New Brunswick’s total gross farm receipts were $445 million in 2000, while operating expenses reached $384 million. While factors such as the commodities they produced, the prices they received and the weather they had to deal with made each farmer’s situation different, in general, expenses rose slightly faster that revenues. Five years earlier, at 1995 prices, receipts were $326 million and expenses were $284 million. (The 2001 Census collected information on gross receipts and expenses for 2000.)
  • In 2000 in New Brunswick, the ratio of operating expenses to gross farm receipts was 0.86:1; in other words, 86 cents of operating expenses were spent for every dollar received in gross farm receipts. This compares to 1995 when the ratio was 0.87:1. (Expenses collected on the census do not include depreciation.)
  • A total of 2,031 farms reported gross receipts of less than $50,000 in 2000, a decline of 14.9%. These farms represented 66.9% of the province’s farms and 5.4% of its gross farm receipts. On the other hand, 431 farms reported gross receipts of $250,000 or more, up 13.1%. These larger farms accounted for 14% of farms and 78% of the province’s year 2000 gross farm receipts.

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Farm type

  • Cattle farms accounted for 26% of the total in New Brunswick in 2001; fruit operations, 13%; and dairy farms, 11%.

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Other highlights of New Brunswick agriculture:

  • Fruit growers had 23,028 acres in use in 2001, up 29.7%. The area of blueberries under cultivation increased 33.1% to 20,713 acres, which represented 90% of total fruitland. One-half of the blueberry growing area is in northern New Brunswick.
  • While the number of cattle dropped by 9.1% between censuses to 91,176 in 2001, expansion was seen in the provincial sheep flock and pig herd. Sheep were up by 32.1% to 9,601 head in 2001. The number of pigs in New Brunswick rose by 84.0% to 137,006 in 2001.
2001 2001 Census of Agriculture
 questionnaire 1996 2001 Census of Agriculture
About the Census of Agricuture All releases 2001 2001 Census of Agriculture


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