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Census of Agriculture counts 1700 farms in Prince Edward Island

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On May 16, 2006, the Census of Agriculture counted 1700 farms in Prince Edward Island, a 7.9% decrease during the past five years. This is slightly higher than the 7.1% decrease at the national level. On Census Day, there were 517 fewer farms in Prince Edward Island compared to 1996. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.

Prince Edward Island accounted for less than 1 % of Canada’s 229,373 farms in 2006, almost the same share as in 2001.

At the same time, Prince Edward Island reported 2330 operators, a 5.3% decline from 2001.

Farm area

Farms in Prince Edward Island averaged 365 acres in 2006, up from 350 acres five years earlier.

The total area of land on farms in Prince Edward Island decreased 4.1% between 2001 and 2006 to 619,885 acres. It has less than 1% of the agricultural land in Canada.

Farmers reported 423,281 acres of cropland in Prince Edward Island in 2006, down from 2001. Cropland is the total area in field crops, fruits, vegetables, sod and nursery.

Farm finance

Prince Edward Island’s total gross farm receipts were $388.7 million in 2005, while operating expenses reached $348.9 million.

Government-funded program payments contributed significantly to gross farm receipts. Farmers themselves contribute to many of these programs by paying premiums much like any insurance plan. According to Statistics Canada data on direct program payments to agriculture producers, in 2000 for Prince Edward Island, 4.3% of receipts were from program payments; by 2005 the proportion had grown to 11.8%. The actual value of these payments increased from $17.0 million to $45.9 million (in current dollars) during this period.

According to the farm input price index (FIPI) and the farm product price index (FPPI), the inflation over this period on prices farmers had to pay for the inputs they purchased rose more quickly than the inflation on the prices they received for the products sold – 8.0% for the inputs versus 2.1% for products sold. At the Canada level, farm input prices rose 8.6% while farm product prices rose only 1.7%.

In Prince Edward Island, operators spent an average of 90 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2005, about five cents more than they spent in 2000.

The number of farms with less than $250,000 (at 2005 constant prices) of gross farm receipts declined by 9.4% between censuses and those with $250,000 or more (at 2005 constant prices) also decreased by 2.7%. There were 425 of these larger farms in Prince Edward Island in 2006, and while they only represented 25.0% of the farms in the province, they accounted for 84.3% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2005.

Organic farms

According to the census there were 80 farms with organic production in Prince Edward Island on census day, 4.7% of all farms in the province. Nationwide, 6.8% of all farms reported organic production.

For the first time, farmers were able to report on their census forms the status of organic products grown or raised. Of the 80 farms reporting organic products in Prince Edward Island, 38.8% of the farms produced certified organic products, 13.8 % were in transition to becoming certified and 61.3% produced organic products but were not certified by a Certifying Agency. Farms can indicate more than one status.

The predominant group of organic products grown in Prince Edward Island was hay or field crops. They were reported on 50.0% of the province’s organic farms.

Farm operators

Of Prince Edward Islands’ 2330 operators in 2006, 17.2% were women, up from 14.6 % from five years earlier. Nationally, 27.8% of farm operators in 2006 were women.

In 2005, about 57.5% of farmers worked more than 40 hours a week on their farm operations, almost unchanged from five years earlier. Nationwide, 46.7% of farmers worked more than 40 hours per week on their farms.

Nearly 43.6% of all farm operators had an off-farm job or business in 2005, unchanged from 2000. At the national level, 48.4% of farm operators had an off-farm job or business.

Census a snapshot

In spring 2006, when the data from the 2006 Census of Agriculture were being collected, farmers were facing a spring that had been preceded by one challenge after another: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), avian influenza, circo virus in pigs, falling commodity prices and the rising cost of fertilizers, fuels and other inputs. Since then, some commodity prices have improved, particularly those associated with alternative fuel sources, and even the beleaguered beef industry is showing some recovery after four years of BSE-inflicted hardship. It’s a situation that offers an important reminder that the Census of Agriculture is a snapshot of Canada’s agriculture sector every five years and that the census cannot measure the rapid changes that wax and wane between census years.

Other highlights of Prince Edward Island’s agriculture

  • Prince Edward Island has the highest ratio of total cropland to total farmland at 68.3% compared to 53.1% in Canada.
  • PEI had the largest area of potatoes in Canada in 2006 with 97,637 acres. However, the area decreased 8.7% since 2001.
  • In 2006, the area in blueberries at 9,803 acres was an increase of 26.0% from 2001.
  • With vegetable area across Canada down 6.5%, Prince Edward Island was only one of two provinces to report an increase (the other province was Manitoba). In 2006, the total area of vegetables was 2,725 acres, an increase of 9.4% since 2001. This is due to the increase in the areas of cauliflower, carrots and beets as well as pumpkins, squash and zucchini.
  • In Prince Edward Island, the area under Christmas trees, at 490 acres in 2006, had the highest increase in the country at 23.1%.
  • In Prince Edward Island, 72.6% of farms reported crop rotation compared to 61.6 % at the national level. Prince Edward Island also had the highest share of farms reporting the use of a cover crop at 17.9% compared to 7.5% in Canada, the plowing down of green crops at 28.9% compared to 10.5% in Canada and the inclusion of buffer zones around water bodies at 52.4% compared to 19.6% for all of Canada.
  • Prince Edward Island had the highest number of pigs in Atlantic Canada at 123,192 head, 37.6% of the region’s total.
  • In Prince Edward Island, no-till methods were used on 2.9 % of the land prepared for seeding in 2006, up from 1.7% in 2001. Conventional tillage increased to 77.9% of land prepared for seeding, from 76.2% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on approximately 19.2% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 22.0% of land in 2001.
  • In 2006, 94 farms in Prince Edward Island reported farm related injuries that required medical attention in the previous 12 months. Injuries were reported on 5.5% of the province’s farms compared to 6.0% of all farms in Canada.
  • About 43.9% of all operations in Prince Edward Island reported using a computer for farm business in 2006 compared to 37.4% of operations in 2001.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Prince Edward Island for their participation and assistance in the 2006 Census of Agriculture.

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


Direct program payments to producers represent the amounts paid under various government agricultural programs to agriculture producers. Farmers themselves contribute to many of these programs by paying premiums much like any insurance plan.

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