1. Executive Summary

The purpose of the Census of Agriculture (CEAG) project is to provide a comprehensive and integrated profile of the physical, economic, social and environmental aspects of Canada’s agriculture industry. As set out in the Statistics Act, the CEAG has been conducted nationally in Canada every five years since 1951. The CEAG collects data on the primary agriculture industry. The content includes questions about livestock and poultry, land and crop areas, farm management practices, farm revenues and expenses, capital values for land, buildings and equipment, and the main farm location. A few questions are about the farm operators, their time spent on farm work and other work as well as some information collected about their employees. The CEAG provides a comprehensive snapshot of the industry. Due to its comprehensive enumeration, it allows Statistics Canada to produce high-quality data at a small area level, which are instrumental not only for meeting data needs of the agriculture industry, but also for meeting governments’ data requirements to support environmental programs, health programs, trade and crisis management.

To stay relevant, preparing for a new CEAG requires a thorough evaluation of data requirements. The decision to include new questions and to modify or eliminate existing questions is not made in isolation—the input and insight gained from consultations with data users is an integral part of the process. A number of factors, such as program and policy needs, respondent reporting burden, data quality, costs, research, historical comparability, privacy, operational considerations and alternative data sources are taken into consideration.

For the 2016 CEAG, the main priorities were to reduce respondent reporting burden as well as to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the census program. Therefore, the goal of the 2016 CEAG consultations was to focus on core data requirements while seeking feedback on the impact of proposed reduced content and exploring possibilities of finding replacement data sources. New content requirements were explored in light of budgetary constraints and response burden on the one hand, balanced against users’ data needs and the need to track industry trends on the other.

This report describes the consultations that took place to determine the content for the 2016 CEAG and the process that was followed to test and determine which topics could be potentially retained for the 2016 CEAG.

Over 460 invitations were sent out to direct contacts who were also encouraged to forward the invitations to additional users and stakeholders of the CEAG data. A total of 168 persons responded by attending one of the 13 consultation workshops held across the country in October 2012. A variety of industry stakeholders in the agricultural community participated in these workshops. They represented producer associations, farm organizations and advisory groups, and various data users from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), provincial agricultural departments, university researchers, other departments and other divisions within Statistics Canada.

Following these workshops, more than 200 submissions for content changes were received. Over one thousand comments and suggestions were evaluated and those that met the basic acceptance criteria moved on to testing with farm operators. Proposed questions were tested through seven focus groups and 248 one-on-one interviews with farm operators. Content determination culminated with the Census Test on May 13, 2014. A random sample of 9,000 farms (across Canada) was selected to participate voluntarily in this Census Test.

Participation of agricultural producers in focus groups, one-on-one testing in their home or farm, or online and mail with the May 2014 Census of Agriculture Test was crucial to the success of determining the 2016 CEAG content. Their comments and suggestions were very useful to clarify certain instructions or to adjust wording and terminology, which improved the questions and answer categories. Their participation also helped to improve the understanding and flow of the questions (whether on paper or online) to make it as easy as possible to fill out the questionnaire.

Statistics Canada has to balance several data user needs for high quality data (including the need to track emerging industry trends) with the potential reporting burden data collection imposes on Canadian producers. The decision to retain, remove or add new content was guided by this overarching goal.

Users and stakeholders provided strong support for the questions included in the discussion questionnaire. The majority of the questions in the 2016 CEAG should be identical to questions on the 2011 CEAG. This is important for maintaining the ability to track long-term trends in the industry and to meet the ongoing needs of users and stakeholders. Users and stakeholders recommended that three new topics be added where space was freed up. These new questions on direct marketing, technology and succession planning reflect changes in the industry along with strong data-user demand.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: