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Sharp decline in number of farms in Quebec

Farm size
Farm receipts
Farm type
Computer use
Organic farms
Other highlights of Quebec agriculture

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

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

The 2001 Census of Agriculture counted 32,139 census farms in Quebec, a 10.7% decline during the past five years, identical to the national average. During the past two decades, the number of Quebec farms has declined 33.2%, higher than the national average of 22.4%. (A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.)

Quebec accounted for 13% of all Canadian farms in 2001, the same share as in 1996. It ranked fourth in terms of farms, behind Saskatchewan (50,598). Ontario ranked first with 59,728 farms, followed by Alberta with 53,652 farms.

The number of farms declined in all 14 agricultural regions of the province between 1996 and 2001. The Montérégie region still accounted for the highest proportion of Quebec farms, almost 24%, virtually unchanged from 1996. The 2001 Census counted 7,551 farms in this region, down 12.3%.

The region with the second highest share was Chaudière-Appalaches, which had about 19% of all Quebec farms. The census counted 6,015 farms in this region, down 9.3%

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Farm size

Since 1981, the average size of Quebec farms has increased 35.6%, from 194 acres to 263 acres in 2001. Between 1996 and 2001, average farm size increased 11.0%. Quebecs average was considerably lower than the national average of 676 acres. Saskatchewan which has mainly a field crop-based agriculture has the largest average farm, at 1,283 acres.

Regionally, average farm size in Montérégie increased slightly to 233 acres in 2001 while total farm area remained at 1.8 million acres. The average size of farms increased in all regions except for Montréal-Laval. The 216 farms in this predominantly urban area were only 85 acres on average.

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Farm receipts

Québecs total gross farm receipts were $6.1 billion in 2000, while operating expenses reached $5.1 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 $5.0 billion and expenses were $4.0 billion. (The 2001 Census collected information on gross receipts and expenses for 2000.)

Over the five-year period, prices farmers received for their products increased 7.3%, while prices they paid for expenses such as fertilizer and fuel increased by 8.7%. Farmers, squeezed by relative increasing costs, had to increase farm productivity to keep the ratio of receipts-to-expenses favourable.

In 2000 in Quebec, the ratio of operating expenses to gross farm receipts was 0.83:1, in other words, 83 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 0.80:1. (Expenses collected on the census do not include depreciation.)

Between 1995 and 2000, only farm operations with gross receipts of $250,000 or more saw their numbers increase. There were 6,375 farms reporting this level of gross receipts for 2000, up 29.7% from 1995. While they accounted for 20% of all farms in Quebec, they had 70% of the total gross receipts reported for the province for the year 2000.

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Farm type

Dairy farms are still the most common type in Quebec. However, their share of the total has declined drastically in the past two decades.

In 1981, dairy farms accounted for nearly half (41.3%) of the total of 48,144 farms. By 2001, their number had declined to 8,614, just over one-quarter of the total.

Quebec still has the largest number of dairy cows among the provinces. Farmers reported 407,206 dairy cows on their farms in 2001, down 13.7% since 1996, the largest decline in numbers among the provinces. In 1981, Quebec farmers had 705,935 milk cows.

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Computer use

Farms using computers represented 47.7% of Quebecs total, which was also the highest proportion in the country. The national average was 39.4%. In 1986, only 2% of farms reported using a computer, on par with the national average of about 3%.

The vast majority (85%) of farms reporting a computer used it for bookkeeping. About 62% of farms reported using the Internet.

Farms with higher sales were more likely to use a computer. Three-quarters of farms with sales over $250,000 reported using a computer, compared with only 27% of farms with sales under $25,000.

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Organic farms

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.)

The census enumerated 372 Quebec farms that were certified organic, just over 1.2% of all the farms in the province. Quebec ranked third in such farms, following Saskatchewan and Ontario. Nationally, 2,230 farms reported certified organic commodities.

Four out of ten of these Quebec farms reported producing a certified organic other crop, mostly organic maple products. The second highest category was the fruit, vegetable or greenhouse products.

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Other highlights of Quebec agriculture:

  • Quebec continues to be the number one producer of pigs in the country. In 2001, there was a 23.9% increase in the number of pigs raised from 3.4 million pigs in 1996 to 4.3 million pigs. The Montérégie region accounted for 1.4 million pigs, highest in Quebec.
  • Quebec is by far the largest producer of maple syrup products. With 30,695,200 maple taps, Quebec makes up 91% of the national total. Quebecs level rose by more than 10 million taps from 1996. In 1981, there were only 15,797,674 taps, half of the current level. Chaudière-Appalaches continues to be Quebecs main producing area in 2001, with 12,073,637 maple taps. Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint Laurent had the biggest increase in maple taps.
  • Corn for grain increased from 819,833 acres in 1996 to 1,076,578 acres in 2001, up 31.3%, continuing a long-term trend. In 1981, Quebec produced only 408,827 acres of grain corn. The number of farms growing grain corn increased from 6,783 in 1996 to 7,656 in 2001.
  • Quebec is the nations second largest producer of soybeans, with 365,888 acres in 2001. This was up from 238,934 acres in 1996, and it was more than 100 times the 3,555 acres in 1981.
  • Quebec is second in terms of total acres of vegetables, behind Ontario. Quebec had one-third of the 330,752 acres of vegetable area in Canada.
  • Quebec is the third largest sheep-producing province. In 2001, it had 254,053 sheep on 1,366 farms. This was a 67.6% increase from 1996 compared with a 46.0% increase nationally. Canada had 1,262,448 sheep in 2001.
  • Quebec farmers had 15,813 deer on their farms in 2001, up from 7,586 in 1996, making Quebec the number one producer of deer. In 1996, it was fifth largest.

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

A full statistical portrait of Canadian agriculture is available on Statistics Canadas Website (/) through The Daily, the Agencys 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.

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

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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