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Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Census of Agriculture: Agriculture-population linkage database


This third and final release of data from the 2001 Census of Agriculture provides a full socio-economic profile of Canada's farm population.

This report combines data from the Census of Agriculture with data from the 2001 Census of Population. As a result, many characteristics of the farm population, such as age, income sources, unpaid household activities and religion, can be compared with the general population.

Immigrants represent declining share of Canada's farm population

Data from the Census of Population showed that the proportion of Canada's population in 2001 who were immigrants had reached 18.4%, its highest level in 70 years. Such was not the case within the nation's farm population.

As a result of most of the recent waves of immigrants settling in large cities, during the past 30 years immigrants have accounted for a progressively smaller share of a farm population that is itself in decline.

Note to readers

This release refers to data from the agriculture-population database at the national and provincial levels. Some data are available from both the 20% sample and the full census. For these data, there may be small differences between the two as a result of sampling errors. These differences are not "conflicts" but the natural consequences of sampling.

An immigrant farmer is a person who is or who has ever been a landed immigrant and who was operating a farm at the time of the 2001 Census of Agriculture. Landed immigrants are people who have been permitted by immigration authorities to live in Canada permanently; some will have lived in Canada for a number of years, while others arrived recently. Most have obtained Canadian citizenship, while others have not or are not eligible to do so. Landed immigrants must have resided in Canada for at least three years before they can apply for Canadian citizenship.

In 2001 there were 187,770 census families on unincorporated farms, a decrease of 13.2% from the 216,415 families enumerated in 1996. Using data only for census families on unincorporated farms allows us to analyse total income of farm census families and the relative importance of net farm income to total income. Census families on incorporated farms are excluded since they are more likely to report their income from the farm as wages and salaries or dividend earnings ("other employment income" or "other sources of income") than as net farm income.

As of May 15, 2001, 49,295 people who lived on Canada's farms were immigrants. These individuals represented 6.8% of the total farm population of 727,130. This proportion was down from 7.2% in 1991, 8.2% in 1981 and 8.5% in 1971.

The farm population itself in 2001 was about half the level of nearly 1.6 million people in 1971.

The 2001 Census of Agriculture enumerated 346,200 farm operators, of which 9.4%, or 32,460, were immigrants. Nearly 8 out of 10 (77%) of these immigrant farm operators were born in Europe, while 7% were born in Asia.

People who were born in the Netherlands represent the highest share of immigrant farm operators in Canada. In 2001, there were 7,460 immigrant farm operators who were born in the Netherlands, 23% of the total. They were followed by 4,405 who were born in the United Kingdom, representing 14% of the total, and 3,785, or 12%, born in Germany.

Between one-third and one-half of immigrant farmers from each of these countries came to Canada before 1961.

Just over 4,000 immigrants who arrived from 1991 to 2001 became farm operators in Canada. Of these, the vast majority, 79% or 3,200, were born in Europe. In contrast, those who were born in Asia were a distant second; they numbered only 345, or 9% of the total.

This is in sharp contrast to all recent arrivals to Canada. Of all immigrants who settled in Canada during the 1990s, 58% were born in Asia, and only 20% in Europe.

Average family income: Gap reopens between farm and non-farm families

Average income for farm families and those who do not live on farms increased from 1995 to 2000. The characteristic gap favouring average family income in the general population over average farm family income temporarily closed in 1995, but it reopened in 2000.

In 1995, farm families received $59,614 in average total income, just slightly above the average of $59,515 received by all families in the general population. By 2000, the average income for families in the general population had reached $66,263, about $2,000 higher than the average of $64,160 for farm families.

For the purposes of perspective, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada divides farms into four groups: retirement, lifestyle, low-income and business-focussed. The definitions, based on the operator's age, sales classes, level of production, specialization, participation and dependence on farm income, are explained in The farm typologies.

Total family income for the business-focussed farms with receipts of $250,000 and over averaged $68,265 in 2000. Net farm income accounted for almost 40% of this total, the highest proportion of any group. However, families on these farms accounted for only 9% of all farm families.

Average family income was highest for lifestyle farms, defined as small farms managed by families with off-farm income greater than $50,000. In 2000, families on these farms had an average income of $93,177. However, net farm income accounted for only 2% of this total.

Detailed analyses of these new census data are presented free of charge in three reports, available now online: Farm population: Bucking the trend in a country shaped by immigrants, Keeping the faith on the farm and Income of farm families.

This is the last of three data releases from the 2001 Census of Agriculture. A full-colour book containing more than 40 analytical articles based on data from the 2001 Census of Agriculture and other sources will be available in the spring of 2004.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 3438 and 3901.

Agriculture-population linkage data for the 2001 Census (95F0303XIE, free) are now available online. From the Our products and services page, under Browse our Internet publications, choose Free, then Agriculture.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Gaye Ward (613-951-3172), Census of Agriculture, or Media Relations (613-951-4636).

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Date Modified: 2003-12-02 Important Notices