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The definition of a census farm has not remained constant over the years. Changes in this definition since 1921 are summarized below. These changes do affect the comparability of the data among censuses.
Since 1996, a census farm has been defined as an agricultural operation that produces at least one of the following products intended for sale: crops (hay, field crops, tree fruits or nuts, berries or grapes, vegetables, seed); livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, game animals, other livestock); poultry (hens, chickens, turkeys, chicks, game birds, other poultry); animal products (milk or cream, eggs, wool, furs, meat); or other agricultural products (Christmas trees, greenhouse or nursery products, mushrooms, sod, honey, maple syrup products).
The 1996 definition of a census farm was expanded from the definition used in 1991 to include commercial poultry hatcheries and operations that produced only Christmas trees. In 1996, this expanded definition resulted in the inclusion of 138 commercial poultry hatcheries and 1,593 operations across Canada that produced only Christmas trees. In all other respects, the 1996 definition was the same as the 1991 definition.
For the 1981 and 1986 Censuses, a census farm was defined as a farm, ranch or other agricultural holding with sales of agricultural products of $250 or more during the previous 12 months. Agricultural holdings that anticipated sales of $250 or more in the census year were also included.
For the 1976 Census, a census farm was defined as a farm, ranch or other agricultural holding of one acre or over with sales of agricultural products of $1,200 or more during 1975. However, the basic unit for which a questionnaire was collected was termed an agricultural holding. This term was defined as a farm, ranch or other agricultural holding of one acre or over with sales of agricultural products of $50 or more during the 12-month period prior to the census. At head office, the questionnaires were divided into census farms and small agricultural holdings. Small agricultural holdings were those remaining after the census farms had been removed. For data comparability purposes, all published 1976 Census data has been tabulated according to the agriculture holding definition (i.e., with sales of agricultural products of $50 or more during the 12 months prior to the census) and not according to the census farm definition.
For the 1961, 1966 and 1971 Censuses, a census farm was defined as a farm, ranch or other agricultural holding of one acre or over with sales of agricultural products of $50 or more during the 12-month period prior to the census.
For the 1951 and 1956 Censuses, a census farm was defined as a holding on which agricultural operations were carried out and that was (a) three acres or more in size, or (b) from one to three acres in size, with agricultural production in the year prior to the census valued at $250 or more.
The 1931 and 1941 Censuses defined a census farm as a holding of one acre or more that produced, in the year prior to the census, agricultural products valued at $50 or more, or that was under crops of any kind or used for pasturing in the census year.
The 1921 Census defined a census farm as a holding of one acre or over that produced, in 1920, crops of any kind valued at $50 or more.
Farm capital includes the value of all farmland, buildings, farm machinery and equipment (including passenger vehicles used in the farm business), and livestock and poultry. Respondents report the value of their land, buildings, farm machinery and equipment as of Census Day. Values for livestock and poultry inventories reported in the census are calculated using data on average farm prices for the various types of livestock and poultry. Farm capital does not include the value of crops in the field or in storage, or farm inputs on hand, such as fertilizer and seed.
Since 1991, "farm operators" has been defined as those persons responsible for the day-to-day management decisions made in the operation of a census farm or agricultural operation. Up to three farm operators could be reported per farm. Prior to the 1991 Census of Agriculture, the farm operator referred to only one person responsible for the day-to-day decisions made in running an agricultural operation.
Farm typing is a procedure that classifies each census farm according to the predominant type of production. This is done by estimating the potential receipts from the inventories of crops and livestock reported on the questionnaire and determining the product or group of products that make up the majority of the estimated receipts. For example, a census farm with total potential receipts of 60% from hogs, 20% from beef cattle and 20% from wheat, would be classified as a hog farm. Changes in farm type can reflect a shift in farming activity but could also be influenced by changing commodity prices. This farm type classification, referred to as "historical," is based on the Standard Industrial Classifications (SIC).
For 2006 and 2001, a new farm type classification based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) has been added to the historical classification used in previous censuses.
NAICS was created against the background of the North American Free Trade Agreement. It is designed to provide common definitions of the industrial structure of the three countries (the United States, Canada and Mexico) and a common statistical framework to facilitate analysis of the three economies. NAICS Canada replaced both the 1980 Standard Industrial Classification and the 1980 Canadian Standard Industrial Classification for Companies and Enterprises. Concordances showing the relationship between NAICS Canada and the 1980 SIC can be found by accessing NAICS - SIC concordance.
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