Ontario led in soybeans and corn area

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Ontario accounted for 62.3% and 61.7% of the national areas of soybeans and corn for grain, respectively. Since 2006, soybean area increased 308,986 acres to 2.5 million acres in 2011 and corn for grain increased 454,494 acres to 2.0 million acres.

Ontario continued to report the most farms

The 2011 Census of Agriculture counted the highest number of farms in Ontario with 25.3% of Canada’s 205,730 farms. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces agricultural products intended for sale.

The 2011 Census of Agriculture counted 51,950 census farms in Ontario, a 9.2% decrease since 2006. This compares to a 10.3% decrease at the national level.

Gross farm receipts remained stable

Ontario’s gross farm receipts in 2010, the year prior to the census, remained stable with a 0.1% increase (at 2010 constant prices) to $11.9 billion, from 2005. At the national level there was a 3.9% increase in gross farm receipts between 2005 and 2010.

Operators spent on average 84 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2010, about two cents less than they spent in 2005.

Oilseed and grain farm and dairy farm types accounted for 24.5% and 17.6% of total 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.

More larger farms

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, the number of farms with $500,000 or more (at 2010 constant prices) of 2010 gross farm receipts increased by 5.8% between censuses, and those with less than $500,000 decreased by 10.7%. There were 5,609 of these larger farms in Ontario in 2011, and while they represented 10.8% of all farms in the province, they accounted for 68.1% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2010.

Farm operators

Ontario reported 74,840 farm operators in 2011, 9.2% lower than in 2006, following the trend in the number of farms. In 2011, 28.4% of Ontario farm operators were women while nationally this percentage was 27.4%.

The average age of a farm operator in Ontario in 2011 was 54.5 years compared with 52.6 years in 2006. Nationally, the average age of a farm operator in 2011 was 54.0 years, up from 52.0 years in 2006.

In 2010, 37.0% of all Ontario farm operators worked more than 40 hours a week on average on their farm operations, compared to 43.1% five years earlier. At the national level, this percentage was 40.1% in 2010.

In 2010, 47.8% of all Ontario farm operators had an off-farm job or business compared to 49.6% in 2005. At the national level, this percentage was 46.9% in 2010.

According to the Census of Agriculture, 26.5% of Ontario 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 26.8% of operators aged 35 to 54, and 12.1% of operators over 55 years of age.

Farm area

Total farm area in Ontario decreased 4.8% between 2006 and 2011 to 12.7 million acres. Ontario reported 7.9% of the total farm area in Canada in 2011. Average area per farm was 244 acres in 2011, up from 233 acres five years earlier.

Of the total farm area in Ontario in 2011, 70.5% was cropland, a slight increase from 68.0% reported in 2006. Farmers reported 8.9 million acres of cropland in Ontario in 2011, down from 9.0 million acres in 2006. The province accounted for 10.2% of cropland reported in Canada. Cropland is the total area reported in field crops, hay, fruits, field vegetables, sod and nursery.

Proportion of cropland, Ontario, 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 croplandNote *
2011 2006
Field crops 74.1 68.6
Hay 23.3 28.3
Vegetables 1.5 1.7
Fruits 0.6 0.7
Sod and Nursery 0.6 0.7

The majority of cropland (97.4%) in Ontario in 2011 was reported as field crops and hay which is an increase from the 96.9% in 2006 (Table 1). The proportion of field crops (including potatoes) increased to 74.1% in 2011 from 68.6% in the past census. Conversely, the proportion of hay area decreased to 23.3% from 28.3%. 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. Other crops, including field vegetables, fruit, sod and nursery production, accounted for an additional 2.7% of total cropland in 2011, down from 3.1% in 2006.


The number of dairy cows in Ontario decreased 3.5% since 2006. Despite this decrease, in 2011 Ontario continued to report the second largest dairy herd (behind Quebec) in the country with 318,158 cows down from 329,737 in 2006.

The number of pigs in Ontario decreased 21.8% since 2006. Despite this, Ontario continued to report the second highest number of pigs in Canada, behind Quebec, with 3.1 million pigs in 2011. Ontario accounted for the largest decrease in the number of farms reporting pigs, down 1,514 farms to 2,556 in 2011.

Ontario ranked second in the country in number of mink breeding stock with 122,137 reported in 2011.

In 2011, Ontario maintained the largest population of goats and sheep in the country, both of which increased since 2006. The number of goats in Ontario increased 52.7% to reach 116,260 head in 2011 which accounted for 51.6% of the national total. The number of sheep in Ontario increased 13.4% to reach 352,807 head in 2011 which accounted for 31.8% of the national total.

Organic farms

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, there were 774 farms with certified organic and/or transitional production in Ontario. This represented 1.5% 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 Ontario was field crops and hay and it was reported by 67.7% of the province’s 774 certified organic and/or transitional farms.

Other agricultural highlights in Ontario

  • Ontario continued to report the largest winter wheat area in the country. In 2011, winter wheat area increased 7.0% to 1.1 million acres.
  • Area reported for grains traditionally used for livestock feed decreased in 2011. Barley area decreased 42.6% to 126,881 acres, mixed grain area decreased 38.8% to 106,162 acres and oat area decreased 46.2% to 71,040 acres. Similarly, hay area decreased 18.9% to 2.1 million acres.
  • Ontario accounted for the majority (98.6%) of ginseng area in Canada in 2011. Since 2006 the total ginseng area in the province increased 1.1% to 7,232 acres.
  • The number of maple taps in Ontario increased 15.0% to 1.5 million.
  • Over half (54.2%) of Canada's total greenhouse area was located in Ontario in 2011. Total greenhouse area increased by 6.7% to 135.1 million square feet. Greenhouse vegetables accounted for 86.2 million square feet and floriculture products for 42.6 million square feet.
  • In 2011, Ontario had the largest area of grapes, apples, peaches, sour cherries, pears, and plums in the country. Apple area decreased 21.5% to 15,830 acres in 2011. Grape area also decreased between censuses by 10.7% to 18,383 acres in 2011 — nearly two-thirds (61.3%) of all grape area in the country was reported in Ontario.
  • Ontario had the largest share of the Canadian nursery and sod areas, with 25,270 acres of nursery and 28,414 acres of sod. This accounted for 42.4% and 44.8% of Canada's nursery and sod areas, respectively.
  • In Ontario, no-till methods were used on 33.1% of the land prepared for seeding in 2011, a slight increase from 31.2% in 2006. Conventional tillage decreased to 37.1% of land prepared for seeding, from 43.9% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on 29.8% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 24.9% 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 873,120 acres in Ontario.
  • High-speed internet was reported by 44.7% of all farms in Ontario, similar to the national average of 44.8%.
  • In Ontario 31.0% of all farms in the province reported paid labour for the year 2010, the largest proportion in the country. The census counted 84,878 paid employees, of whom 39.2% worked year-round in a full or part-time capacity while 60.8% 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.

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 Ontario 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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