2021 Census of Agriculture
Content Consultation Report

Release date: October 2, 2019

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Executive summary

The purpose of the Census of Agriculture (CEAG) is to provide a comprehensive and integrated profile of the physical, economic, social and environmental aspects of Canada’s agriculture industry. The Census of Agriculture is mandated under the Statistics Act to be conducted every five years. The CEAG collects data on Canada’s primary agriculture industry, with content on topics such as land practices, agricultural commodities, farm revenues and expenses, and operator information. The data are needed to make informed decisions about business management strategies and agricultural policies, programs and services that directly affect farmers and rural communities.

Before each CEAG, Statistics Canada conducts an extensive consultation and qualitative testing process to ensure that it reflects changes in Canada’s agriculture industry. For the 2021 CEAG, Statistics Canada’s priorities are keeping the CEAG data that are relevant to the agriculture industry while improving the overall cost-effectiveness of the CEAG and reducing response burden.

In the fall of 2017, Statistics Canada conducted a national consultation process with data users, including federal government departments, provincial focal points, agricultural associations and educational institutions. The purpose of this consultation process was to obtain input and justifications for new and existing content. Data users were asked to prepare their submissions based on a series of key considerations, including program and policy needs, response burden, data quality, costs, research, historical comparability, privacy, operational considerations, and alternative data sources. This report provides a detailed overview of the consultation and submission analysis processes.

A total of 487 organizations and 665 individuals were invited to participate in the consultation process. Data users were encouraged to forward the invitation to any individuals or organizations that would be interested in participating. Data users had the opportunity to submit their feedback either by attending one of the 12 consultation workshops held across the country or by completing the 2021 Census of Agriculture submission form. In total, 132 organizations attended a consultation workshop and 91 submission forms were received.

All submissions were examined as part of a rigorous analysis and testing process. Throughout this process, 1,454 comments were identified. The majority of these comments were identified as justifications of the importance and relevance of keeping specific CEAG content for data users. Approximately one-third of the comments suggested changes or new questions. These comments were further analyzed by topic to determine their suitability for further testing. This analysis was done to inform content changes ahead of the qualitative testing processes in 2018 and 2019.

Background

Statistics Canada conducts the CEAG to provide a comprehensive profile of the physical, economic, social and environmental aspects of Canada’s agriculture industry. It is mandated under the Statistics Act and is instrumental in supporting public and private decision making, research and analysis in areas of concern to farmers and the Canadian agricultural sector.

Before each CEAG, Statistics Canada conducts an extensive consultation process that allows data users and interested parties across Canada to share their views on how they use census data and the type of information they believe should be available from the census.

For the 2021 CEAG, the main priorities are to improve cost-effectiveness and reduce response burden while remaining relevant and responding to the information needs of governments, agricultural operators, farm organizations, data users and Canadians. As part of this process, extensive efforts were made to reduce the number of questions on the final version of the electronic questionnaire (EQ). The addition of filter questions and other time-saving aspects to the EQ is another example of the efforts made to reduce response burden.

Another example of efforts made to reduce response burden for the 2021 CEAG is the full or partial replacement of CEAG data using high-quality administrative data sources. Steps that could be fully replaced include organization type, gender, cannabis, and detailed revenues and expenses. Steps that could be partially replaced include sales and expenses, maple (Quebec), mushrooms, and greenhouses

Through the 2021 CEAG consultation process, data users were asked to provide input on the 2016 CEAG, while keeping a series of key considerations in mind, including program and policy needs, response burden, data quality, costs, research, historical comparability, privacy, operational considerations and alternative data sources. All resulting submissions were examined as part of a rigorous analysis and testing process.

Overall, in making decisions about whether to keep, remove or add any content for the 2021 CEAG, Statistics Canada aimed to maintain its data quality standards while reducing response burden.

Census of Agriculture mandate and objectives

Statistics Canada is responsible—under section 20 of the Statistics Act—for conducting a CEAG every 10 years in years ending in 1 and every 10 years in years ending in 6, unless the Governor in Council otherwise directs in respect of any such year.

The objectives of the CEAG are to:

  1. Provide statistical information and analysis about Canada’s economic and social structure to help develop and evaluate public policies and programs, and to improve public and private evidence-based decision making for the benefit of all Canadians.
  2. Promote sound statistical standards and practices by:
    • using common concepts and classifications to provide better-quality data;
    • working with federal government departments and the provinces and territories to improve data collection efficiency and reduce duplication;
    • using administrative data to validate information or replace survey data;
    • improving statistical methods and systems through research studies and projects.
  3. Produce critical information to manage federal and provincial government expenditures in support of the agricultural sector.
  4. Improve Statistics Canada’s Business Register—the common frame for the surveys and censuses that produce economic statistics.
  5. Produce small-area data that are critical to industry structural analysis, crisis management, environmental programs, etc.
  6. Produce data that can be used as benchmarking data and to reconcile common statistics and indicators in the Agriculture Statistics Program.

2021 Census of Agriculture content determination method

Feedback from data users was requested to inform content development for the 2021 CEAG. There were two ways for data users to provide feedback throughout the 2021 CEAG consultation process: (1) by attending a 2021 Census of Agriculture consultation workshop (in person or online) and (2) by submitting a 2021 Census of Agriculture submission form.

2021 Census of Agriculture consultation workshops

In 2017, the CEAG content determination team conducted workshops across the country to obtain feedback from data users. In total, 12 workshops (8 in-person and 4 WebEx) were held across Canada (see Appendix A for the consultation workshop agenda). The purpose of these workshops was to:

  1. engage with data users;
  2. obtain feedback on 2016 CEAG content;
  3. gain a better understanding of the needs of data users and receive justification for keeping non-essential questions in the 2021 CEAG.

Workshop invitations

Two waves of emails were sent to data users. The first wave of invitations was a general invitation to participate in the consultation process and was sent at the end of June 2017 to 487 organizations and 665 individuals. Invitees included provincial and federal government departments, agricultural organizations and producer groups, and educational institutions. The second wave of invitations was sent at the beginning of August 2017 to those who registered after the first invitation. This second invitation provided an opportunity for data users to register for specific workshops and webinars and also included a copy of the 2021 CEAG submission form.

Workshop evaluation

At the end of each workshop, attendees were invited to provide feedback on the workshops through a workshop evaluation form. This evaluation (Appendix B) asked questions about the effectiveness of the workshops and their appropriateness as a forum for providing feedback on the CEAG. Of the 134 workshop attendees, 88 completed a workshop evaluation. All 88 respondents felt that the workshop was a good way to inform them about the CEAG consultation process. Furthermore, 96.6% of respondents felt that the workshop was a good forum for them to express their data needs. See Appendix C for full evaluation results.

2021 Census of Agriculture submission form

The submission form was created to allow data users to provide written feedback for the 2021 CEAG and justify their needs. The form was provided to any data user who registered to participate in the consultation process. Statistics Canada also asked users to forward the submission form to any other users or organizations they thought might be interested in participating.

For the purposes of the submission form, the steps in the CEAG were divided into two categories: core content and secondary content. Core content is the minimum content required to sustain Statistics Canada’s agriculture program and is expected to remain. Secondary content makes up the remainder of the questionnaire. All secondary content was under consideration for removal. Secondary content is always evolving based on data users’ changing needs while respecting CEAG constraints. Here is the list of steps by content category:

Core content

Secondary content

The submission form (Appendix D) was delivered to data users as a writeable PDF and contained both multiple-choice and open-ended questions on:

The deadline for submissions was October 13, 2017, although the deadline was extended for some data users upon request. Overall, 91 submission forms were received from distinct data users. Organizations were encouraged to combine all of their data needs and requests into one submission form to reduce the number of duplicate submissions from each organization. Table 1.1 provides a breakdown of workshop attendees and submissions by organization type.


Table 1.1
Attendees and submissions by organization type
Table summary
This table displays the results of Attendees and submissions by organization type. The information is grouped by Organization (appearing as row headers), Workshop attendees and Submissions, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Organization Workshop attendees Submissions
number
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (including PFRA, CFIA and FCC) 21 19
Agricultural organizations and producer groups (including NFU and CFA) 31 29
Educational institutions 2 3
Federal government departments and agencies (excluding Statistics Canada and AAFC) 3 2
Provincial government departments and agencies (excluding Statistics Canada and AAFC) 56 21
Statistics Canada 11 5
Other (consultants, regional associations, intermediaries, processors, suppliers, individuals, etc.) 8 12
Total 132 91

Submission form analysis

Data needs and uses

As mentioned earlier, the first section of the submission form explored data users’ needs and CEAG data uses. To determine data needs, users were asked to report whether each step was essential, of some need or of no need. The following definitions were provided to data users:

Chart 1.1 illustrates the data needs provided based on the grouped categories of steps. The findings suggest that, in general, the data provided by the CEAG are either essential or of some need to data users. It is important to note that organizations reported their specific needs, which depend on their priorities. For example, specific data may be considered essential for one organization, but of no need for an organization with different priorities.  

Chart 1.1 Data users' level of need by 2021 Census of Agriculture topic

Data table for Chart 1.1 
Data table for Chart 1.1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1.1 Essential need, Some need, No need and Data users, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Essential need Some need No need
Data users
percent
Agricultural finances 47.7 31.1 21.2
Technology and energy 46.0 39.8 14.3
Organic 53.2 31.2 15.6
Land use and practices 50.4 28.5 21.1
Agricultural products 53.3 22.7 24.0
Poultry and livestock 53.7 26.7 19.6
Operator information 48.7 34.0 17.3

In addition to providing information on data needs, individuals and organizations that completed a submission form (n = 91) were asked to select all applicable data uses. As illustrated in Chart 1.2, the most commonly reported data uses were (1) analysis of trends in agriculture or research; (2) policy, regulation or program development; and (3) program or policy evaluation.

Chart 1.2 Purpose of Census of Agriculture data for organizations

Data table for Chart 1.2 
Data table for Chart 1.2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1.2. The information is grouped by Data use (appearing as row headers), Total responses, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Data use Total responses
number
Analysis of trends in agriculture or research 82
Policy, regulation or program development 67
Program or policy evaluation 53
Resource allocation for programs and services 37
Other 25

Content submissions

The next section of the submission form asked data users to provide:

  1. justifications for maintaining core content;
  2. rationales for keeping secondary content under consideration for removal from the CEAG;
  3. data gaps in the CEAG;
  4. alternative data sources.

As part of the submission form analysis process, the user content submissions related to core content justifications, rationales for keeping secondary content and data gaps were broken down by step, while the alternative data sources were kept for future reference. Once the submissions had been divided into the various CEAG questionnaire steps, they were reviewed by CEAG analysts and grouped into categories based on submission type. Table 1.2 shows the number of comments by step.


Table 1.2
Number of comments by 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire step
Table summary
This table displays the results of Number of comments by 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire step. The information is grouped by Topic (appearing as row headers), Step number in 2016 Census of Agriculture, Suggested changes, New questions, General comments, Justifications of need and Total, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Topic Step number in 2016 Census of Agriculture Suggested changes New questions General comments Justifications of need Total
number
All (general support) Not applicable 0 0 0 22 22
Business information 1 1 0 0 1 2
Operator information 2 9 0 3 9 21
Main farm location 3 2 0 2 21 25
Unit of measure 4 1 0 1 0 2
Land area 5 0 2 0 28 30
Hay and field crops 6 1 36 1 31 69
Vegetables 7 10 0 1 20 31
Fruits, berries and nuts 8 15 0 4 23 42
Sod, nursery products and Christmas trees 9 3 1 1 22 27
Land use and summerfallow 10 to 11 9 4 17 57 87
Tillage 12 4 0 4 44 52
Land practices 13 17 18 4 41 80
Crop residue 14 10 0 2 23 35
Inputs and manure 15 to 16 17 37 17 75 146
Irrigation 17 9 0 3 39 51
Organic 18 2 30 45 4 81
Greenhouse products 19 6 4 3 4 17
Mushrooms 20 2 0 0 2 4
Maple tree taps 21 1 0 0 2 3
Bees 22 0 1 0 2 3
Technology 23 51 15 6 42 114
Poultry 24 to 27 5 6 6 5 22
Livestock 28 10 21 10 4 45
Market value 29 5 1 10 9 25
Farm machinery and equipment 30 7 6 17 34 64
Sales and expenses 31 4 0 8 26 38
Employees 32 29 0 5 32 66
Direct sales 33 10 30 14 36 90
Operating arrangement 34 0 4 9 29 42
Succession plan 35 10 2 0 25 37
Renewable energy 36 21 21 7 32 81
Total This is an empty cell 271 239 200 744 1,454

As illustrated in Table 1.2, there were 1,454 user content submissions. Of these, the majority (51.2%) were justifications for keeping specific content. The remaining submissions suggested either changes (18.6%) or new questions (16.4%) or contained general comments (13.8%).

Figure 1.1 provides a list of the top five topics for each type of content submission. Inputs and manure was the topic with the highest number of comments categorized as justifications of need and new questions. Inputs and manure was in the top five for each type of content submission and had the most comments of any topic overall.

Figure 1.1 Top five topics by content submission type

Description for Figure 1.1

This figure presents a block diagram of the five most frequently submitted topics for each of the four 2021 Census of Agriculture submission categories. Topics for which changes were suggested include technology, employees, renewable energy, land practices, and inputs and manure. Topics for which new questions were suggested include inputs and manure, hay and field crops, organic, direct sales, and livestock. Topics for which general comments were made include organic, land use and summerfallow, inputs and manure, machinery, and direct sales. Topics for which justifications of need were made include inputs and manure, land use and summerfallow, tillage, technology and land practices.

Source: 2021 Census of Agriculture content consultations.

The content submissions identified as justifications of need or general comments were retained for use by the CEAG content determination team. These were used to determine whether secondary content would be kept or modified.

The user content submissions that were identified as suggesting changes or proposing new questions were subsequently analyzed based on the key criteria developed by the 2021 CEAG content determination team. The key criteria were developed to ensure that each suggested change to the questionnaire or new question was analyzed according to the same criteria and that this analysis was as objective as possible. This provided a robust and structured way of analyzing users’ comments and suggestions. The key criteria included the following questions:

The key criteria were assigned a scoreNote  based on the relative importance of each criterion in determining the content for the 2021 CEAG. The content determination team calculated the score for select criteria using a methodology that considered several factors, including whether:

Each data user’s suggestion either for change or for a new question was analyzed using the key criteria, resulting in a score of up to 22. These scores were then used to decide whether this suggestion should be incorporated into the 2021 CEAG. CEAG analysts then used the scores to determine whether each suggested change or new question was:

  1. suitable for the CEAG and qualified for Questionnaire Design Resource Centre (QDRC) testing—this would be chosen if the suggestion or new question met most of the key criteria (for example, if a suggestion is relevant, of national scope, easy for farmers to answer and was requested by multiple organizations, then it would be deemed worthy of further testing);
  2. not suitable for the CEAG, but may be suitable for other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys—this type of suggestion or new question may represent an important data need; however, the CEAG is not the preferable collection method for it (this category could include data gaps where the data are needed more frequently than every five years, or data gaps that are too specific to be asked on the CEAG);
  3. not suitable for the CEAG or other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys—suggestions or new questions within this category do not meet a sufficient number of key criteria to qualify for further testing (for example, content submissions that are too detailed, not relevant to the CEAG, or not within the mandate of the CEAG or Statistics Canada).

After the initial scoring of the content submission, a second review was conducted by a separate CEAG analyst to ensure that the initial analyst’s final decision was accurate and appropriate. 

Chart 1.3 provides a breakdown of the suitability of data users’ comments and suggested new questions. Of the 237Note  new questions provided by data users for analysis, 72.6% were deemed to be suitable for the CEAG or other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys, while 27.4% were determined to be unsuitable for both the CEAG and other Statistics Canada surveys, based on the key criteria. Of the 252Note  suggested changes provided by data users for analysis, 69.4% were identified as suitable for the CEAG or other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys, while 30.6% were identified as unsuitable for both the CEAG and other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys.

Chart 1.3 Suitability of data user suggestions and new questions for the 2021 Census of Agriculture questionnaire

Data table for Chart 1.3 
Data table for Chart 1.3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1.3 Suitable for testing, Unsuitable for the Census of Agriculture but suitable for other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys, Unsuitable for the Census of Agriculture and other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys and Data user suggestions, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Suitable for testing Unsuitable for the Census of Agriculture but suitable for other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys Unsuitable for the Census of Agriculture and other Statistics Canada agriculture surveys
Data user suggestions
percent
New questions 25.3 47.3 27.4
Suggested changes 43.7 25.8 30.6

Consultation submissions summary

In total, 510 suggested changes and new questions were analyzed by CEAG analysts. Tables 1.3 and 1.4 provide a full breakdown of suggestions by topic—grouped by core and secondary content—and the decisions made as to their suitability for testing.


Table 1.3
Summary of content consultation submissions for core content
Table summary
This table displays the results of Summary of content consultation submissions for core content. The information is grouped by Topic (appearing as row headers), 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire step number, Summary of submissions received, Number of comments and Topic assessment (appearing as column headers).
Topic 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire step number Summary of submissions received Number of comments Topic assessment
Business and operator information Steps 1 and 2 Make simple changes to question wording. 2 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase response burden.
Add content about multiple business numbers. 1 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it is relevant to existing policies and programs
• other countries have adopted similar suggestions
• it has national scope
• there are no alternative data sources.
Add more detailed operator information. 5 Determined to be unsuitable for testing due because
• alternative data sources are available
• it is not within the CEAG mandate.
Add content about off-farm income re-investments and new entrants. 2 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• this question has not tested well historically
• it increases response burden
• alternative data sources are available
• there is low prevalence or demand.
Main farm location Step 3 Add content about geo-mapping and location. 2 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Unit of measure Step 4 Add additional units of measure. 1 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• other countries have adopted similar suggestions
• there are no alternative data sources
• it improves question accessibility
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Land area Step 5 Include further breakdown of land area categories. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it increases response burden
• it is difficult for respondents to answer
• there is low prevalence or demand.
Add content about land expansion. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it increases response burden
• it is difficult for respondents to answer
• there is low prevalence or demand.
Hay and field crops Step 6 Add categories for faba beans and hemp. 2 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• the size of the target population is adequate
• it improves question accessibility
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Add content about areas of crop grown (specifically for bio-products and bioenergy, crop rotation and frequency, and price of hay and crops that are organic or genetically modified organisms [GMOs]). 10 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it increases response burden
• the target population is too small
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG.
Add categories for camelina, hops, quinoa, kamut, straw, grazing corn, carinata, miscanthus, switchgrass and wild hay. 25 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it increases response burden
• the target population is too small
• there is low prevalence or demand for each individual commodity
• the data for these commodities are collected under “other hay and field crops.”
Vegetables Step 7 Add categories for sweet potatoes, okra, eggplant, jerusalem artichokes, herbs, potatoes (in hay and field crops) and other specialty crops. 7 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is not of national interest
• it has an impact on historical comparability
• the data for these commodities are already collected under “other vegetables.”
Include further breakdown of categories. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is not of national interest
• it has an impact on historical comparability.

Change terminology. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is not of national interest
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Remove the question or specific categories. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Fruit, berries and nuts Step 8 Include further breakdown of categories for blueberries and currants. 5 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it is relevant to existing policies and programs
• it harmonizes with other Statistics Canada surveys
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Include further breakdown of categories for grapes and strawberries. 7 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• the target population is too small
• alternative data sources are available.
Add additional categories for specialty crops, hazelnuts, sea buckthorn and crab apples. 3 Determined to be suitable for testing (within other fruits, berries and nuts) because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase response burden.
Sod, nursery products
and Christmas trees
Step 9 Clarify terminology. 1 Determined to be suitable for testing (help text) because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase response burden.
Include further breakdown of categories. 3 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• alternative data sources are available.
Land use Step 10 Include further breakdown of categories for woodlands and wetlands and land use by primary, secondary and related agricultural uses. 3 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Add new categories for plow down green crops, bioenergy and grazing. 5 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Organic products Step 18 Add content about organic acreage, seeded acreage versus acreage intended to be seeded, breakdown by commodities (livestock, maple, eggs, etc.), percentage of organic versus non-organic, revenue from organic agriculture, GMO acreage, labour and employment, demographics, and national sustainability and certification systems.
Il y avait des préoccupations au sujet du remplacement par des données administratives.
23 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• alternative data sources are available
• it increases response burden.
There were concerns over administrative data replacement. 9 Not applicable: Comments were reviewed and taken into consideration.
Greenhouse products Step 19 Change wording and content order. 2 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase response burden.
Add content about cannabis. 1 Determined to be suitable for testing (separate question) because
• is is relevant to existing policies and programs
• it has national scope.
Add content about incorporation of controlled environments. 3 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Add categories for cuttings and propagative flowers, herbs, eggplant and fruits (strawberries, raspberries, other). 4 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it has an impact on historical comparability
• the target population is too small
• quality alternative data sources are available.
Mushrooms Step 20 Add content about chemicals used to control pests or disease, type of manure or compost used, and wildcrafting. 2 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• the population is too small.
Maple tree taps Step 21 Add categories for other trees tapped. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• the target population is too small.
Bees Step 22 Add content about value-added products. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG.
Poultry Step 27 Add content about poultry housing, biosecurity, regulated versus unregulated poultry, poultry multipliers and marketing boards. 6 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it increases response burden.
Include further breakdown of categories. 2 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it increases response burden
• the target population is too small.
Change wording of content and help text. 3 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase response burden.
Livestock Step 28 Include further breakdown of categories for veal, bison, rabbits, horses, working dogs, mealworms, fox and chinchillas. 9 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it increases response burden
• the target population is too small
• some categories have not tested well historically.
Add content about antibiotic use, retained ownership, biosecurity, traceability, animal welfare and contract pig farming. 13 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it increases response burden
• the population is too small
• alternative data sources are available
• it is difficult for respondents to answer.
Include further breakdown of categories for goats, sheep and lambs. 8 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it is relevant to existing policies and programs
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are available
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Remove the question or specific categories. 1 Not applicable: Comments were reviewed and taken into consideration.
Market value of land and buildings Step 29 Split land value and building value. 5 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it has national scope
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Clarify content and data availability. 1 Not applicable: Comments were reviewed and taken into consideration.
Farm machinery and equipment (total) Step 30 There were no suggestions.
Gross farm receipts and operating expenses Step 31 Add content about renewable energy income, income from other commercial activities on the operation, and research. Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is difficult for respondents to answer
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• the target population is too small.

Table 1.4
Summary of content consultation submissions for secondary content
Table summary
This table displays the results of Summary of content consultation submissions for secondary content. The information is grouped by Topic (appearing as row headers), 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire step number, Summary of submissions received, Number of comments and Topic assessment (appearing as column headers).
Topic 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire step number Summary of submissions received Number of comments Topic assessment
Operating arrangement Step 34 Include further breakdown of categories. 2 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Change question wording. 1 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase the response burden.
Promote administrative data use. 1 Not applicable: Comments were reviewed and taken into consideration.
Summerfallow Step 11 Explain distinction between summerfallow and idle cropland. 5 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it is relevant to existing policies and programs
• other countries have adopted similar suggestions
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are available
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Tillage Step 12 Group all land practices content together. 3 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Include further breakdown of categories. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it has an impact on historical comparability
• it is too specific for the CEAG.
Land practices and crop residue Steps 13 and 14 Add content about area for land practices, operations with tile or surface drainage, grazing, odour control methods, presence of riparian buffers, water sources, genetically modified organism (GMO) crop growth, area of cropland for integrated pest management scouting, area of industrial hemp plowed down, presence of two annuals growing together on the same field, crop rotation, biofuel and bio-crop production, crop residue management, and crops subject to land practice and crop residue use. 42 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it has an impact on historical comparability
• alternative data sources are available
• it increases the response burden.
Group all land management content together. 3 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Inputs and manure Steps 15 and 16 Add separate category for treated seed. 5 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it is relevant to existing policies and programs
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are available
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Make simple changes to question wording. 2 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase the response burden.
Add categories for organic input and manure, crop types, and other types of inputs and manures. 5 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• the target population is too small
• alternative data sources are available
• it is difficult for farmers to respond
• it increases the response burden.
Add content about concentrations and nutrient components of fertilizers and manures, concentrations and source species of manure contents, timing of manure application, whether manure was purchased or produced, and application method. 40 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• alternative data sources are available.
Group all land management content together. 2 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Irrigation Step 17 Provide more detailed irrigation information (e.g., types of crops irrigated and types of irrigation systems). 8 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• alternative data sources are available.
Group all land management content together. 1 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it has an impact on historical comparability.
Technology Step 23 Add additional content on advisory services, use of technologically produced data, high-speed Internet, technology spending and technology by farm type. 17 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it increases the response burden
• alternative data sources are available.
Add various categories. 34 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• other countries have adopted similar suggestions
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are available
• there is high prevalence or demand.
Make simple changes to question wording. 3 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase the response burden.
Remove the question or specific categories. 12 There was industry support for keeping this topic on the CEAG.
Farm machinery and equipment (details) Step 30 Add categories about off-road vehicles, technology, and manure spreaders and injectors, as well as write-in categories. 6 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it is difficult for respondents to answer.
Add content about fuel type, owned versus leased, age of equipment and grain storage. 7 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• it is difficult for respondents to answer.
Number of paid employees Step 32 Add content about temporary foreign workers. 13 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it is relevant to existing policies and programs
• other countries have adopted similar suggestions
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are availableTable 1.4 Note 1
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Add content about labour shortages and unpaid workers. Include further breakdown of temporary and seasonal workers, contract workers and job types of workers. 16 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• alternative data sources are available
• some of these topics have not tested well historically.
Direct sales Step 33 Add content about percentage of farm receipts from direct sales. 15 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• other countries have adopted similar suggestions
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are available
• there is high prevalence or demand.
Expand categories to include sales to commercial kitchens, restaurants, food services, the processing industry, wholesalers and resellers, livestock, and new methods of direct sales. Distinguish between food and non-food products. 15 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• some of these topics have not tested well historically.
Add new content on organic products and the percentage of organic products sold, as well as on agri-tourism and products sold directly for export. 7 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• some of these topics have not tested well historically.
Clarify and add context. 3 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it improves question accessibility
• it does not increase the response burden.
Renewable energy Step 36 Add specific categories for co-generation. Include further breakdown of biogas and heat pumps. 4 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG.
Add content for types of farms using alternative energy, energy efficient technology, number of acres, crops used in bioenergy production, expenditure and revenue amounts, precise system locations, energy diagnostics, efforts to reduce energy use, owned versus leased systems. 14 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• alternative data sources are available (for some).
Add additional categories for solar energy and bioenergy. 11 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are available
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Add content about energy produced for personal use versus energy produced for sale. 7 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• other countries have adopted similar suggestions
• it has national scope
• no alternative data sources are available
• there is high prevalence or demand
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Remove the question or specific categories. 6 There was industry support for keeping this topic on the CEAG.
Succession plan Step 35 Add content about different levels of succession planning (e.g., wills, unwritten succession plans) and successors. 5 Determined to be suitable for testing because
• it is relevant to existing policies and programs
• it has national scope
• it is within the CEAG mandate.
Add content about farm management tools and best practices, as well as timing of change in current status of operation. 7 Determined to be unsuitable for testing because
• there is low prevalence or demand
• it increases the response burden
• it is too specific for the CEAG
• alternative data sources are available.

Testing submissions

Modular testing

In accordance with the Policy on the Development of Questionnaires, Statistics Canada’s QDRC conducted qualitative testing (also called modular testing) with farm operators in two phases in 2018 on several proposed questions for the 2021 CEAG. Regional offices also conducted qualitative testing with farm operators.

The purpose of this testing was to:

The qualitative testing was conducted on a one-to-one basis with farmers. Participants were recruited from a list of agricultural operators in proximity to the selected test locations. Locations that were selected for recent survey testing were avoided, but test locations with a sufficient number of diversified farms were selected. A Statistics Canada employee recruited operators of farms of various sizes, types and operating arrangements, and with specific attributes that needed to be tested (e.g., farms with a succession plan or renewable energy). Both French and English versions of the questionnaire were tested.

Modular test—Phase 1

The first phase of testing took place in January 2018. A total of 57 in-depth interviews were conducted in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia. In the first phase of testing, only the English version of the EQ was tested. New questions were tested on paper. Table 1.5 outlines the testing priorities for the first phase of modular testing.


Table 1.5
Questionnaire Design Resource Centre Phase 1 testing priorities for 2021 Census of Agriculture content
Table summary
This table displays the results of Questionnaire Design Resource Centre Phase 1 testing priorities for 2021 Census of Agriculture content. The information is grouped by Priority (appearing as row headers), 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire steps (appearing as column headers).
Priority 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire steps
High Greenhouse and other controlled environment
Livestock
Business number
Paid labour
Land use and cropland where no crops are grown
Ownership
Technology
Renewable energy
Direct sales
Medium Agricultural operators
Poultry
Succession plan
Market value
Inputs
Low Cannabis
Hay and field crops
Fruits, berries and nuts
Vegetables
Farm machinery and equipment
Other livestock
Changes or events

The results from this phase of testing were used to determine whether the new content was suitable for further testing (Phase 2) or whether it was unsuitable for the CEAG (e.g., the question was difficult for farmers to understand or unduly increased response burden). Changes to new content were made as required before the second phase of testing.

Modular test—Phase 2

The second phase of testing took place in June 2018, with interviews being conducted by Statistics Canada employees from the regional offices and QDRC. A total of 54 interviews were conducted during the second phase of testing in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. In this phase of testing, both the English and French versions of the EQ were tested. By Phase two, the majority of the new content had been integrated into the EQ. Table 1.6 outlines the testing priorities for the second phase of modular testing.


Table 1.6
Questionnaire Design Resource Centre Phase 2 testing priorities for 2021 Census of Agriculture content
Table summary
This table displays the results of Questionnaire Design Resource Centre Phase 2 testing priorities for 2021 Census of Agriculture content. The information is grouped by Priority (appearing as row headers), 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire steps (appearing as column headers).
Priority 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire steps
High Canada Revenue Agency business number and other business numbers
Paid labour
Cannabis
Greenhouse and other controlled environment
Maple tree taps
Livestock (specifically dairy)
Farm machinery and equipment
Medium Inputs and manure
Technology
Renewable energy
Direct sales
Succession plan
Low Agricultural operators
Hay and field crops
Vegetables
Fruits, berries and nuts

Response burden reduction

An important objective of this second phase of testing was determining whether it took less time for respondents to complete the EQ. Results from a timed test in December 2017 suggest that the CEAG was relatively successful in reducing the amount of time it takes to complete the EQ. In this test, employees from Statistics Canada’s Agriculture Division were provided with mock data to enter into the questionnaire. These mock data were developed specifically to simulate potential real-life responses from CEAG respondents and reflected a variety of farm types and sizes.

Interpretation of the modular test results

If new content tested well in the second phase, it was integrated into the EQ in preparation for the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test. For the remaining content, the modular testing results were used to determine appropriate solutions to any issues that were identified, including:

All of the content issues identified during modular testing were outlined in the QDRC and regional staff reports, which were written after each phase. In addition to identifying content issues, these reports provided a step-by-step breakdown of the results of the probing questions developed by CEAG analysts. In cases where more than one version of the question was being tested, the versions preferred by respondents were also included in the report.

After reviewing these reports, CEAG analysts met with QDRC interviewers to discuss and address the identified issues. For example, if a step had content that was difficult for respondents to understand, QDRC would provide suggestions for how this issue could be resolved based on its experience with questionnaire design and testing. This feedback informed the content change decisions made by CEAG analysts in preparation for the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test.

2019 Census of Agriculture Test

The final stage of testing for the 2021 CEAG was the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test, which began on May 6, 2019, and ended on June 28, 2019. The 2019 Census of Agriculture Test date was May 14, 2019, which was selected to be close to the census date of May 11, 2021. The purpose of the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test was to test content changes as well as all EQ systems and processes, imputation processes and validation tools. Testing priorities were determined based on the extent of content changes made from the previous census questionnaire. One change to content included in the test focused on data replacement. Select steps on the CEAG questionnaire were replaced with administrative data, with the goal of reducing response burden by making the questionnaire shorter. Administrative data includes information that respondents provided for another purpose to other Statistics Canada surveys, Federal, Provincial or Municipal departments, or farm associations.

Methodology

A sample of 10,000 agricultural operations was selected from across Canada. The sample was targeted to include specific language profiles and farm characteristics. This was done to ensure that the new and modified EQ functionalities and content were adequately tested. The sample was also chosen based on the testing priorities outlined in Table 1.7. For example, the greenhouse step was rated as a high testing priority for the census test. As a result, part of the sampling strategy focused on making sure that an adequate number of greenhouse operations were included in the sample to ensure that the question was properly tested.


Table 1.7
Testing priorities for the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test
Table summary
This table displays the results of Testing priorities for the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test. The information is grouped by Priority (appearing as row headers), Steps from the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test questionnaire (appearing as column headers).
Priority Steps from the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test questionnaire
High Greenhouse
Dairy operations
Out-of-scope operations
Maple tree taps
Multiple business numbers
Machinery
Mushrooms
Hog operations
Medium to high Energy
Technology
Direct marketing
Succession planning
Employees
Inputs
Tillage
Medium to low Fruit, berries and nuts
Vegetables
Livestock (sheep, beef)
Poultry
Main farm location
Mapping tool

Once the sample was selected, each agricultural operation was sent an invitation to participate at the beginning of April. Participation in the census test was voluntary; therefore, some level of non-response was expected. Of the potential 10,000 respondents, 3,864 responded, representing a response rate of 38.6%.   More information on the census test sampling strategy is provided in Figure 1.2.

Figure 1.2 2019 Census of Agriculture Test sampling strategy

Description for Figure 1.2

This figure presents a flowchart of the 2019 Census of Agriculture sampling strategy. This strategy includes standard farms, farms with testing priority and farms that used the electronic questionnaire in 2016. This strategy excludes non-standard farms, Northern operations, farms with revenues under $10,000, respondents that used the paper questionnaire in 2016 and modular test respondents. Based on these inclusions and exclusions, invitations were sent to a sample of 10,000 farms across Canada. Of these, 59.7% were English and 40.3% were French. The response rate for the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test was 38.6%. The response rate for English agricultural operations was 36.1%. The response rate for French agricultural operations was 42.4%. In total, 3,864 operations submitted questionnaires for the 2019 Census of Agriculture Test.

Note: These values contain respondents that were out of scope in 2016.
Source: 2019 Census of Agriculture Test.

Content validation

After data collection was complete, the content was validated by CEAG analysts to ensure that it was properly understood and reported and that the EQ functionality was operating as expected. Each step within the EQ underwent vigorous analysis by CEAG analysts to confirm that the data collected through the EQ were valid. Based on these analyses and the results from prior testing, decisions were made on whether content should be kept on the EQ in its current state, modified or removed. 

Testing summary

The testing process for the 2021 CEAG included two phases of modular testing and a national census test. After each of these tests, the prospective 2021 content underwent vigorous analysis processes to determine its suitability for subsequent testing. The findings from these analyses enabled CEAG analysts to make informed decisions regarding the final content of the 2021 CEAG.

Appendix A: 2021 Census of Agriculture workshop agenda

Topics:

Location and audience:

*All time information was reported for the respective local time zone.

WebEx sessions:

Appendix B: Consultation workshop evaluation form

CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE

2021 Content determination workshop evaluation

We would appreciate if you could take a few minutes to answer the following questions.

Name and organization:
Email:
Telephone:

  1. Do you feel that the workshop is a good way to inform you about the Census of Agriculture content determination process?
    • No
    • Yes
  2. Comments:
  1. Were the location, date and timing adequate?
    • No
    • Yes
  2. Comments:
  1. Were the presentation and materials provided useful?
    • Not useful
    • Somewhat useful
    • Very useful
  2. Comments:
  1. Do you feel that workshop is a good forum to express your data needs?
  2. Comments:
  1. A- How did you find out about the workshop?
    • By email
    • On the Statistics Canada website
    • Through someone else
    • Other (specify):
  1. B- Was this the best approach?
    • No
    • Yes
  2. Comments:

Thank you for your participation.

Appendix C: Workshop evaluation findings

Total participation:

Q1: Do you feel that the workshop is a good way to inform you about the Census of Agriculture content determination process?

Q2: Were the location, date and timing adequate?

Q3: Were the presentation and materials provided useful?

Q4: Do you feel that the workshop is a good forum to express your data needs?

Q5A: How did you find out about the workshop?

Q5B: Was this the best approach?

Appendix D: 2021 Census of Agriculture submission form

Statistics Canada conducts the Census of Agriculture to provide a comprehensive profile of the physical, economic, social, and environmental aspects of Canada’s agriculture industry. It is mandated by the Statistics Act and is instrumental to support public and private decision-making, research, and analysis in areas of concern to farmers and the Canadian agricultural sector.

Before each census, Statistics Canada initiates an extensive consultation program that allows data users and interested parties across Canada to share their views on how they use census data and the type of information they believe should be available from the census.

Statistics Canada ensures that Census of Agriculture information remains relevant for the agricultural sector and organizations that use it. Therefore, Statistics Canada is seeking ideas for new or modified Census of Agriculture content, as well as data sources that could be used to supplement or replace current content and reduce respondent burden.

For the 2021 Census of Agriculture, the main priorities are to improve cost-effectiveness, as well as to reduce respondent burden while remaining relevant and responding to the information needs of governments, agricultural operators, farm organizations, data users, and Canadians.

In order to meet these priorities, Statistics Canada is seeking your input to:

Please use this form to submit your proposals regarding content changes and to provide a clear rationale and justification of your requirements. The deadline for submission is October 13, 2017.

Discussion Questionnaire

The questions on the Census of Agriculture are divided into two categories:

Core content:

Secondary content:

The attached discussion questionnaire proposes some changes to core content. If you would like to suggest different wording or options, please inform us by completing this submission form and justifying your needs.

The discussion questionnaire also identifies questions that are classified as secondary content and are under consideration for removal. If these topics are of interest to your organization, please provide justifications of your needs in this submission form.

Key Considerations for Content Determination

The decision to change a Census of Agriculture question is based on a number of factors, such as program and policy needs, respondent burden, data quality, costs, research, historical comparability, privacy, operational considerations and alternative data sources. When completing the submission form, please keep in mind these key considerations:

With these questions in mind, please complete this submission form thoroughly. Your input is essential in helping Statistics Canada assess and substantiate the value of the census questions in meeting the needs and priorities of the agricultural sector.

Results

The information you provide will be carefully reviewed and will assist in determining content for the 2021 Census of Agriculture.

Statistics Canada is committed to respecting the privacy of consultation participants. All personal information created, held or collected by the Agency is protected by the Privacy Act.

Anonymized comments collected during the consultation may be published in the 2021 Census of Agriculture Content Consultation Report available on the Statistics Canada website in fall 2019.

1. Please provide your contact information.

2. Select the category that describes you or the organization that you represent.

3. For what purpose(s) do you or your organization use Census of Agriculture data? (select all that apply)

4. The Census of Agriculture questionnaire steps are listed below. Considering the following definitions, please rate your organization’s need for each step.

5. The following steps are part of the secondary component and are under consideration for removal for the 2021 Census of Agriculture.  Please justify your needs.

If the step is important to you or your organization, please provide your rationale for keeping the question in the 2021 Census of Agriculture. Include a description of your needs and how you use this data (e.g., for policy requirements, research, etc.), as well as the level of geography required.

*The step numbers refer to the 2016 Census of Agriculture questionnaire.

6. Do you or your organization combine Census of Agriculture data with other data sources?

If yes, please provide the name of the other data source (e.g., Farm Financial Survey, membership list, etc.), the organization that produces the data (e.g., Statistics Canada, provincial organizations, etc.), and the names and definitions of the variables.

7. In your opinion, are there data gaps that the 2021 Census of Agriculture should fill? Data gaps may include topics, population groups, etc. that are not currently covered by the census.

If yes, please list these data gaps below in order of priority. Include descriptions of how this data would be used by your organization, existing data sources for this information, and suggested wording for any questions that you propose to cover these data gaps.

We invite you to provide any additional comments, questions or concerns you would like to share (Max. 2,000 characters):

Thank you very much for your input. We will carefully consider each of your comments during the consultation process.

Please note that the deadline for written submissions is October 13, 2017.

Addendum to the Submission Form of the 2021 Census of Agriculture

Please return with the submission form.

8. The following steps of the Census of Agriculture questionnaire are considered core content:

Please indicate which steps are used by you or your organization and provide a brief description of how you use the data (e.g., for policy requirements, research etc.).

Max. 2,000 characters:

9. Do you know of alternative data sources that can provide similar information as the Census of Agriculture data? (For example, an administrative list or a registration list.)

If yes, please provide the names of the alternative data sources and the organizations that produce it.

Max. 2,000 characters:

Thank you very much for your input. We will carefully consider each of your comments during the consultation process.

Please note that the deadline for written submissions is October 13, 2017.

Appendix E: Key criteria and score

Relevance

International

Size of population

National scope

Cross-tabulations

Alternative source

Continuity over time

Frequency

Difficulty

Willingness

Past testing

Geography

Prevalence/ demand

Mandate

The maximum score possible was 22.

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