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Census of Agriculture counts 44,329 farms in Saskatchewan

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On May 16, 2006, the Census of Agriculture counted 44,329 farms in Saskatchewan, a 12.4% decrease during the past five years. This is higher than the 7.1% decrease at the national level. On Census Day, there were 12,666 fewer farms in Saskatchewan compared to 1996. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.

Saskatchewan accounted for 19.3% of Canada’s 229,373 farms in 2006, slightly lower than the share in 2001. Saskatchewan’s total ranked 3rd in Canada.

At the same time, Saskatchewan reported 59,185 farm operators, a 10.7% decline from 2001.

Farm area

Farms in Saskatchewan averaged 1,449 acres of land in 2006, up from 1,283 acres five years earlier.

Total area of land on farms in Saskatchewan decreased 1.0% between 2001 and 2006 to 64.3 million acres in 2006. It has about 38.5% of the total farm area in Canada.

Farmers reported 37.0 million acres of cropland in Saskatchewan in 2006, down from 2001. The province accounts for about 41.7% of all cropland area in the nation. Cropland is the total area in field crops, fruits, vegetables, sod and nursery.

Farm finance

Saskatchewan’s total gross farm receipts were 6.3 billion in 2005, while operating expenses reached 5.6 billion.

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 Saskatchewan, 11.6% of receipts were from program payments; by 2005 the proportion had grown to 19.7%. The actual value of these payments increased from $682 million to $1.2 billion (in current dollars) during this period.

According to the farm input price index (FIPI) and the farm product price index (FPPI), the prices farmers had to pay for the inputs they purchased rose 9.6% while the prices they received for the products they sold dropped 5.0%. At the Canada level, farm input prices rose 8.6% while farm product prices rose only 1.7%.

Operators were spending an average of 88 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2005, about 3 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 17.1% between censuses and those with $250,000 or more (at 2005 constant prices) increased by 33.5%. There were 6,348 of these larger farms in Saskatchewan in 2006, and while they only represented 14.3% of farms in the province, they accounted for 57.8% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2005.

Organic farms

According to the census there were 2,197 farms with organic production in Saskatchewan on census day, 5.0% 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 2,197 farms reporting organic products in Saskatchewan, 53.8% produced certified organic products, 8.4% were in transition to becoming certified and 49.5% produced organic products but were not certified by a Certifying Agency. Farms can indicate more than one organic status.

The predominant group of organic products grown in Saskatchewan was hay or field crops. They were reported on 86.2% of the province’s organic farms.

Farm operators

Of Saskatchewan’s 59,185 operators in 2006, 23.8% were women, up from 22.3% five years earlier. Nationally, 27.8% of farm operators in 2006 were women.

In 2005, about 52.7% of farmers worked more than 40 hours a week on their farm operations, relatively unchanged from 53.0% five years earlier. Nationwide, 46.7% of farmers worked more than 40 hours per week on their farms.

Nearly half (48.4%) of all farm operators had an off-farm job or business in 2005, compared to 43.4% in 2000. At the national level as well, 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, circovirus 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 Saskatchewan agriculture

  • Saskatchewan ranks first in Canada for cropland and summerfallow area with 43.0 million acres. Total cropland and summerfallow area decreased 6.0% since 2001 and now represents 44.1% of the Canadian total.
  • In 2006, the province had the largest areas in the country for wheat, oats, rye, canola, flaxseed, dry peas, chick peas, as well as lentils, mustard seed, canary seed and caraway seed.
  • Although Saskatchewan, with 13.0 million acres, remains the top wheat (including spring, durum and winter) producing province in Canada, the proportion of Canadian wheat produced in Saskatchewan has decreased since 2001. In 2006, wheat was grown on 2.1 million fewer acres than in 2001.
  • Canola area has increased by about 26.9% since 2001. In 2006, canola was grown on 6.0 million acres in the province, 48.1% of the total canola area in Canada.
  • Alfalfa and other tame hay increased by 37.4% to 5.2 million acres between 2001 and 2006. In 2006, 26.2% of Canadian alfalfa and other tame hay area was in Saskatchewan.
  • Chick pea area decreased by 74.6% between 2001 and 2006. While there were 1.0 million acres of chick peas in Saskatchewan in 2001, the area had declined to 278,170 acres in 2006. It is still 86.9% of the Canadian total compared to 91.9% in 2001.
  • In 2006, Saskatchewan had the second largest number of cattle and calves in Canada, with 21.3% of the national total. On May 16th 2006, there were 3.4 million cattle and calves in the province, an increase of 16.0% from 2001.
  • Saskatchewan had the second largest number of bison in the country. There were 57,395 bison in the province in 2006, an increase of 65.0% from 2001. Saskatchewan had 29.3% of all bison in Canada.
  • There were 1.4 million pigs in Saskatchewan on May 16th 2006, an increase of 25.1% from the number in 2001.
  • In Saskatchewan, no-till methods were used on 60.2% of the land prepared for seeding in 2006, up from 38.7% in 2001. Conventional tillage fell to 18.3% of land prepared for seeding, from 32.4% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on approximately 21.5% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 28.8% of land in 2001.
  • In 2006, 2,884 operations in Saskatchewan reported farm-related injuries that required medical attention in the year prior to the census Injuries were reported on 6.5% of Saskatchewan farms, compared to 6.0% of all farms in Canada.
  • About 43.5% of all operations reported using a computer for farm business in 2006, compared to 34.8% of operations in 2001.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Saskatchewan 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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