The 2016 Census of Agriculture, released May 10, shows that agriculture is a dynamic, innovative sector that is growing steadily.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is pleased to see significant growth in a variety of sectors across the country, as well as increased representation in the industry by young farmers and women. While these statistics demonstrate opportunities within the sector, CFA stresses this is the beginning of the journey to help the Canadian agriculture sector to reach its full potential.
"The census data demonstrates what the agriculture industry has known for years," said CFA president Ron Bonnett. "Coupled with the recommendations from both the Barton report and the recent Market Access: Giving Canadian Farmers and Processors the World report, the government has an excellent foundation for allowing the agriculture sector to reach its optimal performance."
"What we would love to see is a whole-of-government approach, informed by industry leadership, to remove obstacles for growth. This will allow farmers to produce more efficiently and sustainably, cementing the future of agriculture in Canada."
CFA notes that while profitability in the sector has remained robust over the previous census period, current commodity prices are declining and continued investment and focus on technology and research and development to increase both sustainability and productivity will be critical to maintain competitiveness, as will effective Business Risk Management programs.
The Census of Agriculture had several highlights, including:
• While grains and oilseed and beef farms still represent the largest sectors, there is significant growth in a number of key product areas, such as lentils (where Canada is the world's largest supplier), blueberries and cranberries, amongst others.
• Milk production rose 8.7% despite fewer dairy cows. Increased production per animal was attributable to improvements in animal nutrition, genetics and production practices.
• Canada exported 94.8 million kilograms of frozen blueberries in 2016, up 33.7% from 2011. Meanwhile, exports of fresh blueberries rose 84.4% to 37.1 million kilograms.
• On average, for every dollar in gross farm receipts, farms incurred 83 cents in expenses in 2015 for an expense-to-receipt ratio of 0.83. Rounded to the nearest cent, the ratio was unchanged from 2010.
• Agricultural operations employed 280,315 people in 2015.
• Agricultural goods accounted for 2.2% of Canada's total imports and 4.6% of total exports.
Farm leaders look forward to ongoing consultation with elected officials and policy makers as they work together to meet the agriculture sector's full potential.
Source: Canadian Federation of Agriculture May 11, 2017 news release