Over one-third of dairy cows were reported in Quebec

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As in 2006, Quebec farm operators reported the greatest number of dairy cows in the country. In 2011, there were 359,510 dairy cows in Quebec, ahead of Ontario with 318,158 dairy cows. In 2011, 37.4% of dairy cows in the country were reported in Quebec. In 2006, there were 382,263 dairy cows in Quebec which represented 38.4% of all dairy cows in the country.

Maple taps increased

Over 90% of Canadian maple taps in 2011 were reported in Quebec. Since 2006, the total number of maple taps in Quebec increased 17.2% to 40.6 million in 2011.

Blueberry and cranberry areas expand

Blueberry area increased by 60.7% to 67,085 acres in 2011, the largest area in the country. Cranberry area more than doubled to 7,100 acres, up from 3,348 acres in 2006. The 2011 Census of Agriculture showed that Quebec surpassed British Columbia to become the largest cranberry area in the country. Quebec ranked first in total area of strawberries, second in raspberries, and third in grape area.

Youngest farm operators

In 2011 Quebec reported the lowest average age of farm operators in the country at 51.4 years compared with 49.3 years in 2006. Nationally, the average age of a farm operator in 2011 was 54.0 years, up from 52.0 years in 2006.

Gross farm receipts increased

Quebec’s gross farm receipts in 2010, the year prior to the census, increased 1.6% (at 2010 constant prices) to $8.4 billion, from 2005. At the national level there was a 3.9% increase in gross farm receipts between 2005 and 2010.

Operators spent an average of 82 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2010, the same as in 2005.

Dairy farm and pig farm types accounted for 29.5% and 18.2% of total 2010 gross farm receipts respectively. The North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) provides a framework for classifying farms based on the commodities they produce and the value of these commodities. The farm types presented in this document are derived based on this system.

Farm numbers decreased

The 2011 Census of Agriculture counted 29,437 census farms in Quebec, a 4.0% decrease since 2006. This compares to a 10.3% decrease at the national level. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces agricultural products intended for sale.

Quebec accounted for 14.3% of Canada's 205,730 farms in 2011, which is slightly higher than their share in 2006.

More larger farms

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms in Quebec with $500,000 or more (at 2010 constant prices) of 2010 gross farm receipts increased by 9.2% between censuses, and those with less than $500,000 decreased by 5.9%. There were 4,128 of these larger farms in Quebec in 2011, and while they represented 14.0% of all farms in the province, they accounted for 65.5% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2010.

Farm operators

Quebec reported 43,920 farm operators in 2011, 3.4% lower than in 2006, following the trend in the number of farms. In 2011, 25.9% of Quebec farm operators were women while nationally this percentage was 27.4%.

In 2010, 49.0% of all Quebec farm operators worked more than 40 hours a week on average on their farm operations, compared to 57.0% five years earlier. At the national level this percentage was 40.1% in 2010.

In 2010, 35.6% of all Quebec farm operators had an off-farm job or business compared to 33.3% in 2005. At the national level this percentage was 46.9% in 2010.

According to the Census of Agriculture, 14.0% of Quebec operators who were under the age of 35 on census day worked off the farm for more than 40 hours a week on average in 2010, compared to 14.8% of operators aged 35 to 54, and 8.5% of operators over 55 years of age.

Farm area

Total farm area in Quebec decreased 3.5% between 2006 and 2011 to 8.3 million acres. Quebec reported 5.2% of the total farm area in Canada in 2011. Average area per farm was stable with 280 acres in 2011 and 279 acres five years earlier.

Of the total farm area in Quebec in 2011, 56.1% was cropland, a slight increase from 55.8% reported in 2006. Farmers reported 4.6 million acres of cropland in Quebec in 2011, down from 4.8 million acres in 2006. The province accounted for 5.3% of cropland reported in Canada. Cropland is the total area reported in field crops, hay, fruits, field vegetables, sod and nursery.

Proportion of cropland, Quebec, 2006 and 2011
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of cropland. The information is grouped by Composition of cropland (appearing as row headers), Percent of cropland (appearing as column headers).
Composition of cropland Percent of cropland
2011 2006
Field crops 54.5 51.6
Hay 40.9 44.2
Vegetables 2.0 2.2
Fruits 2.1 1.5
Sod and Nursery 0.5 0.5

Similar to 2006, the majority of cropland (95.4%) in Quebec was reported in field crops and hay (Table 1). The proportion of field crops in cropland (including potatoes) increased to 54.5% in 2011 from 51.6% in the previous census. Conversely, the proportion of land in hay decreased to 40.9% from 44.2%. Increased prices for cash crops coupled with declining beef cattle and pig numbers led to a shift from forages and crops traditionally used for feed to more profitable cash crops.


In 2011, Quebec reported more pigs than any other province, with 4.1 million pigs, a 3.7% decrease since 2006. Quebec reported nearly one-third of all pigs in Canada in 2011.

The number of beef cattle reported for breeding purposes (beef cows and beef heifers) decreased by 18.2% since 2006, totalling 205,238 head in 2011.

Organic farms

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, there were 1,037 farms with certified organic and/or transitional production in Quebec. This represented 3.5% of all farms in the province. Nationwide, 2.0% of all farms reported certified organic and/or transitional production.

The predominant category of certified organic and/or transitional products reported in Quebec was maple products and was reported by 38.6% of the province’s 1,037 certified organic and/or transitional farms.

Other agricultural highlights in Quebec

  • Quebec continued to report the second largest area of corn grown for grain in the country. However, the area decreased slightly since 2006 to 994,454 acres in 2011.
  • In 2011, soybean area increased 55.6% to 684,837 acres, representing the third largest soybean area in country (17.3% of the national soybean area).
  • Canola area increased 169.8% to 41,060 acres.
  • The area in grain crops traditionally used for livestock feed decreased in 2011 compared to 2006. Oat area decreased 17.6% to 255,984 acres, barley decreased 30.6% to 181,409 acres and mixed grains decreased 32.7% to 44,706 acres.
  • Quebec ranked second in total apple area despite a 16.7% decrease since 2006 to 13,471 acres.
  • Quebec reported the largest area of Christmas trees in the country with 20,627 acres, the second largest sod area with 13,366 acres, the third largest greenhouse area with 30.5 million square feet, and the fourth largest nursery area at 8,260 acres.
  • In Quebec, no-till methods were used on 18.2% of the land prepared for seeding in 2011, up from 9.6% in 2006. Conventional tillage decreased to 48.9% of land prepared for seeding, from 62.0% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on 32.9% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 28.5% in 2006.
  • The 2011 Census marks the first time farm operators were asked to report the area from which crop residue was baled for bedding or sale. In 2010, crop residue was baled from 548,369 acres in Quebec.
  • High-speed internet was reported by 40.6% of all farms in Quebec, compared to the national average of 44.8%.
  • In Quebec 43.8% of all farms in the province reported paid labour for the year 2010. The census counted 57,488 paid employees, of whom 42.8% worked year-round in a full or part-time capacity while 57.2% were seasonal or temporary employees.

A snapshot in time

The 2011 Census of Agriculture is the most recent measure of the overall state of Canadian agriculture and its wealth of data provides a valuable snapshot of the sector. The census program provides a data continuum stretching back to 1921, while agricultural data has been collected since the first Census of Canada in 1871.

Since the previous Census of Agriculture in 2006, fluctuating commodity prices in certain sectors as well as changing costs of fertilizers, fuel, seed and livestock feed affected the farming community. The residual effects of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and avian influenza were also issues.

During the time the census was being collected in 2011, many farm operators were confronted with challenges related to flooding and exceedingly wet conditions in some regions of Quebec. However, many changes have since ensued, including favourable commodity prices in some sectors as well as continued evolution in global economic conditions, and some of these factors have benefited the Canadian agricultural sector. At the same time, many farm operators continue to adapt their production and farming practices to become more efficient and to respond to market factors and consumer demands.

These developments, as well as the dynamic and complex nature of the Canadian agricultural industry, are an important reminder that the Census is a snapshot of the agricultural sector that captures its state at a point in time, and does not measure the annual fluctuations between census years.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Quebec for participation and assistance in the 2011 Census of Agriculture.

For further information regarding the Census of Agriculture, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre at 613-951-8116 or toll-free 1-800-263-1136; infostats@statcan.gc.ca

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Rosemary Villani at 613-951-2889, Census of Agriculture, Agriculture Division.


Census farm

An operation is considered a census farm (agricultural operation) if it 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
  • Other agricultural products: Christmas trees, sod, greenhouse, or nursery products, mushrooms, honey or bees, maple syrup and its products

The data for the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories are not included in the national totals because of the different definition of an agricultural operation in the territories and confidentiality constraints. The data for the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories are presented separately.

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Certified organic

An operation or products are referred to as "certified organic" when certification has taken place. Certification refers to the procedure whereby a certification body accredited by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency provides written assurance that products and production systems conform to specified requirements. Certification may be based on a range of inspection activities including verification of management practices, auditing of quality assurance systems and in/out production balances. (Source: Canada Organic Office Operating Manual)

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Transitional organic

Transitional organic refers to those who were in the process of undertaking the three-year process of having all or part of their operations certified organic at the time of the 2011 Census of Agriculture.

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Gross farm receipts

The Census of Agriculture measures gross farm receipts for the calendar or accounting year prior to the census.

Gross farm receipts (before deducting expenses) in this analysis include:

  • receipts from all agricultural products sold
  • program payments and custom work receipts.

The following are not included in gross farm receipts:

  • sales of forestry products (for example: firewood, pulpwood, logs, fence posts and pilings)
  • sales of capital items (for example: quota, land, machinery)
  • receipts from the sale of any goods purchased only for retail sales.

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2005 to 2010

Some data refer to a reference period other than Census Day. For example, for financial data the reference period is the calendar or accounting (fiscal) year prior to the census.

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Farm type

Farm type is established through 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 and pig farm. The farm types presented in this document are derived based on the 2007 North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS). The chart below shows how these derived farm types relate to NAICS.

Table summary
This table displays the results of Farm Type.
The information is grouped by Census of Agriculture derived categories appearing as row headers, and NAICS five-digit classes appearing as column headers.
Census of Agriculture derived categories NAICS five-digit classes
Dairy Dairy cattle and milk production 
Beef Beef cattle ranching and farming, including feedlots
Hog and pig Hog and pig farming
Poultry and egg Chicken egg production 
Broiler and other meat-type chicken production
Turkey production
Poultry hatcheries
Combination poultry and egg production
All other poultry production 
Sheep and goat Sheep farming
Goat farming
Other animal Apiculture
Horse and other equine production
Fur-bearing animal and rabbit production
Animal combination farming
All other miscellaneous animal production
Oilseed and grain Soybean farming
Oilseed (except soybean) farming
Dry pea and bean farming
Wheat farming
Corn farming
Other grain farming
Vegetable and melon Potato farming
Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming
Fruit and tree-nut Fruit and tree nut farming
Greenhouse and nursery Mushroom production
Other food crops grown under cover
Nursery and tree production
Floriculture production
Other crop Tobacco farming
Hay farming
Fruit and vegetable combination farming
Maple syrup and products production
All other miscellaneous crop farming

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Farm operator

According to the census, a farm operator is any person responsible for the management decisions made for an agricultural operation as of May 10, 2011.

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