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Sharp decline in number of farms in Manitoba

Farm size
Farm receipts
Farm type
Computer use
Organic farming
Other highlights of Manitoba agriculture

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

The number of census farms in Manitoba declined sharply between 1996 and 2001, continuing a trend observed over several censuses.

The 2001 Census of Agriculture counted 21,071 census farms in Manitoba, a 13.6% decline during the past five years. This was higher than the 10.7% decrease at the national level. In 1996, there were 24,383 census farms in Manitoba. Since 1981, the number of census farms has decreased 28.4% from 29,442. (A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.)

Manitobas share of the nations farms in 2001 remained virtually stable at just under 9%.

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Farm size

While the overall number of farms in Manitoba has been declining, the size in terms of area, herd sizes and gross farm receipts has been increasing. The average Manitoba farm was 891 acres in 2001, up 13.8% from 1996. Since 1981, the average farm size has risen 39.4% from 639 acres.

Since 1996, Manitobas total farm area has decreased 1.7% to 18,784,407 acres. Manitoba had 11% of the farmland in Canada. Cropland increased 0.3% to 11,650,599 acres in 2001.

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Farm receipts

Manitobas total gross farm receipts were $3.5 billion in 2000, while operating expenses reached $3.1 billion. While factors such as the commodities they produced, the prices they received and the weather they had to deal with made each farmers situation different, in general expenses rose slightly faster than revenues. Five years earlier, at 1995 prices, receipts were $3.0 billion and expenses were $2.5 billion. (The 2001 Census collected information on gross farm receipts and expenses for 2000.)

Over the five-year period, prices farmers received for their products declined by 11.9%, while prices they paid for expenses such as fertilizer and fuel increased by 9.0%. Farmers, squeezed by increasing costs and declining value of many of the products they sold, had to increase farm productivity to keep the ratio of receipts-to-expenses favourable.

In 2000, in Manitoba, 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 expense to gross receipts ratio was 0.83:1. (Expenses collected on the census do not include depreciation.)

While the number of farms with less than $250,000 of gross farm receipts fell by 19.1% between censuses, those with $250,000 or more increased by 40.8%. There were 3,164 of these larger farms in Manitoba in 2001, and while they represented 15% of farms in the province, they accounted for 67% of the total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2000.

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Farm type

Cattle farms are the most predominant farms in Manitoba, followed by grain and oilseed farms, and wheat farms (35.3%, 25.8% and 9.8%). These farms make up more than 70% of the farms in the province. The share of grain and oilseed farms remained fairly stable between the two-census period. On the other hand, the share of wheat farms fell about five percentage points and cattle farms consolidated its position with an increase of four percentage points. The move away from wheat is seen across the Prairies.

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Computer use

The proportion of Manitoba farms using a computer as a management tool nearly doubled since the last census. About 36% of farmers in the province were using a computer in the management of their farm business in 2001, compared with 19% in 1996. The three main uses were for bookkeeping, Internet and word processing.

Overall levels of computer use on Manitoba farms were under the national average of 39.4%. However, computer use in the province increases with the size of farms.

Over three-quarters (77.3%) of Manitoba farms with gross farm receipts of $500,000 or more used computers. In comparison, only 24.0% of farms with gross receipts of less than $25,000 used computers.

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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.)

According to the census, there were 90 certified organic farms in Manitoba on Census Day, 0.4% of all farms in the province. Manitoba farms accounted for 4% of the national total for organic farms. Of the 90 organic farms in the province, 74 produced organic field crops.

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Other highlights of Manitoba agriculture:

  • Between 1996 and 2001, farmers moved away from traditional crops to alternatives that would reduce their input costs or increase their per-acre revenues. Wheat is still the largest single crop in Manitoba with 3.9 million acres, but it, along with barley and oats, experienced reductions in area since the last census.
  • The move from small grains was primarily the result of a switch to more pulse and oilseed crops. Soybeans, white beans and other dry field beans are not only higher value crops than most grains, but they also require fewer inputs as they fix nitrogen that can be used by the crop. All three have increased significantly. In 2001, 50,037 acres of soybeans were reported, compared with 585 acres in 1996. The white bean area of 125,259 acres was almost quadruple the 32,709 acres in 1996. Other dry field bean farm numbers and area have also increased dramatically.
  • Corn for grain and corn for silage have increased vastly, both in number of farms and area since the 1996 census. The area reported as corn for grain rose 59.6% to 110,470 acres in 2001. This increase relates to increases in livestock production (primarily hogs and cattle).
  • Farmers are beginning to tap Manitoba maple trees and produce a uniquely Prairie product. In 1996, there were 11 operations reporting 7,395 taps. In 2001, there were 92 farms with 14,116 taps.
  • With the removal of the Western Grain Transportation Act in 1995, transportation costs to grain producers increased. This, along with decreasing grain prices and increasing livestock prices made the feeding of livestock a good alternative to selling grains. The 2001 Census of Agriculture results show this diversification.
  • Substantial increases in hogs and sheep and more modest increases in cattle were registered between 1996 and 2001 in Manitoba. Less traditional livestock flourished numbers of bison, goats and llamas all increased.
  • In Manitoba, the most-used form of tillage is conventional tillage, which incorporates most of the crop residue into the soil. This technique was used on over half of the land prepared for seeding in 2001. This is down significantly from 1996, when almost two-thirds of land was prepared this way. Becoming more popular are the two other methods conservation tillage, that retains most of the crop residue on the surface, was used on about one-third of land seeded in 2001, while no-till or zero-till seeding was used on the remainder.
  • This move to environmentally-friendly tillage methods has accelerated with the introduction of equipment and plant varieties that are well-suited to this type of production. Not only does the environment benefitsoil moisture is retained for use by the cropthe farmer spends less time in the field and fewer tractor-hours are logged on machinery to accomplish seeding with conservation tillage and no-till seeding.

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

A full statistical portrait of Canadian agriculture is available in The Daily, Statistics Canadas official release bulletin, by accessing the Agencys Website (/).

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.

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

2001 Census of Agriculture questionnaire 1996 Census of Agriculture About the Census of Agricuture All releases 2001 Census of Agriculture

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