Over a quarter of gross farm receipts from greenhouse and nursery production in British Columbia

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Greenhouse and nursery type farms accounted for 25.8% of the 2010 gross farm receipts in British Columbia with $756.6 million. 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.

Greenhouse area in British Columbia increased 4.2% to 59.7 million square feet in 2011. Greenhouse vegetables accounted for 30.6 million square feet, and floriculture products another 20.5 million square feet of the total greenhouse area in 2011. The reported area of nursery products in 2011 in British Columbia was 11,296 acres, second in the country after Ontario.

Blueberry area expanded

Since 2006, blueberry area increased 76.8% to 20,858 acres in 2011. British Columbia accounted for 11.9% of the national blueberry area in 2011, up from 9.3% in 2006.

Gross farm receipts increased

British Columbia’s gross farm receipts in 2010, the year prior to the census, increased 4.0% (at 2010 constant prices) to $2.9 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 89 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2010, about one cent less than they spent in 2005.

The greenhouse and nursery farm type and the poultry and egg farm type accounted for 25.8% and 19.9% of total gross farm receipts, respectively.

Farm numbers stable

The 2011 Census of Agriculture counted 19,759 census farms in British Columbia, a 0.4% 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.

British Columbia accounted for 9.6% of Canada’s 205,730 farms in 2011, which is slightly higher than its share in 2006.

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 7.1% between censuses, and those with less than $500,000 decreased by 0.9%. There were 1,274 of these larger farms in British Columbia in 2011, and while they represented 6.4% of all farms in the province, they accounted for 74.5% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2010.

Farm operators

British Columbia reported 29,925 farm operators, 0.2% higher than in 2006.

Women comprised more than a third of farm operators in British Columbia. Of the province’s 29,925 operators in 2011, 36.5% were women while nationally this percentage was 27.4%. British Columbia had the highest proportion of female operators in the country.

The average age of a farm operator in British Columbia in 2011 was 55.7 years compared with 53.6 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, 25.7% of all British Columbia farm operators worked more than 40 hours a week on average on their farm operations, compared to 31.1% five years earlier. At the national level this percentage was 40.1% in 2010.

In 2010, 52.6% of all British Columbia farm operators had an off-farm job or business, compared to 54.9% in 2005. At the national level this percentage was 46.9% in 2010.

According to the Census of Agriculture, 25.1% of British Columbia 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 27.2% of operators aged 35 to 54, and 12.3% of operators over 55 years of age.

Farm area

Total farm area in British Columbia decreased 7.9% between 2006 and 2011 to 6.5 million acres. British Columbia had 4.0% of the total farm area in Canada in 2011.

Average area per farm also decreased. Farms in British Columbia averaged 327 acres in 2011, down from 353 acres five years earlier.

Of the total farm area in British Columbia in 2011, 61.7% was pasture land (tame or seeded pasture and natural land for pasture). Cropland accounted for an additional 23.0%. Farm operators reported 1.5 million acres of cropland in 2011, up 2.3% from 2006. The province accounted for 1.7% of cropland reported in Canada. Cropland is the total area used in field crops, hay fruits, field vegetables, sod and nursery.

Proportion of cropland, British Columbia, 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
Hay 64.1 66.8
Field crops 29.8 27.7
Fruits 4.1 3.4
Vegetables 1.1 1.2
Sod and Nursery 0.9 0.9

The majority of cropland (93.9%) in British Columbia was reported as field crops and hay (Table 1). The proportion of hay decreased from 66.8% in 2006 to 64.1% in 2011. Field crops represented 29.8% of cropland in 2011 compared to 27.7% in 2006. Total fruit area represented 4.1% of cropland in 2011, up from 3.4% in 2006.


The total number of dairy cows in the province increased 1.3% since 2006 to 73,707 head in 2011.

The number of beef cattle reported for breeding purposes (beef cows and beef heifers) decreased by 26.9% since 2006, totalling 229,268 head in 2011.

Organic farms

According to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, there were 569 farms with certified organic and/or transitional production in British Columbia. This represented 2.9% 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 British Columbia was fruit, vegetable and greenhouse production and was reported on 70.1% of the province’s 569 certified organic and/or transitional farms.

Other agricultural highlights in British Columbia

  • Alfalfa area in British Columbia increased 7.9% since 2006 to 538,438 acres in 2011 while other tame hay area decreased 12.2% to 411,225 acres.
  • Since 2006, canola and spring wheat areas both expanded. Canola area increased 37.7% to 88,557 acres and spring wheat area increased 50.4% to 81,971 acres in 2011.
  • Sweet cherry area expanded 30.4% since 2006 to 4,178 acres in 2011. British Columbia accounted for 86.6% of the national sweet cherry area. British Columbia also reported the largest areas of raspberries and apricots in the country.
  • Grape area increased 17.6% since 2006 to 9,169 acres in 2011 while apple area decreased 12.7% to 9,646 acres.
  • British Columbia ranked third in Canada in field vegetable area, behind Ontario and Quebec. The province reported 16,287 acres in 2011 down 5.3% since 2006. The largest vegetable crops in British Columbia were sweet corn, beans, and squash and zucchini. Sweet corn area decreased 5.9% since 2006 to 3,216 acres in 2011.
  • In British Columbia, no-till methods were used on 28.3% of the land prepared for seeding in 2011, up from 19.1% in 2006. Conventional tillage decreased to 39.5% of land prepared for seeding, from 54.8% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on 32.2% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 26.1% in 2006.
  • The 2011 Census marked 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 54,189 acres in British Columbia.
  • High-speed internet access was reported by 43.2% of all farms in British Columbia, while the national average was 44.8%.
  • In British Columbia 32.9% of all farms in the province reported paid labour for the year 2010. The census counted 45,505 paid employees, of whom 29.1% worked year-round in a full or part-time capacity while 70.9% 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 British Columbia for their 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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