Demographic changes in Canadian agriculture

A Statistics Canada report on demographic changes in agriculture says there are fewer farms than there used to be and farmers are getting older. However, Saskatchewan has relatively more young farmers than other provinces. (CBC)

While fewer Saskatchewan farms are being run by younger people these days, farms in the rest of Canada skew even older, a report says.

According to Demographic Changes in Canadian Agriculture, released on Tuesday, only 11.8 per cent of Saskatchewan farms in 2011 were run by people aged 39 years or younger, but it was the highest percentage of seven regions compared. 

The Canadian average was 9.9 per cent.

The proportion of Saskatchewan farms run by younger people is almost twice as big as B.C.'s, according to the report, which is based on census data.

As well, Saskatchewan was one of three provinces (the others being Quebec and Manitoba) where the percentage of farms run by people 55 and over was less than the national average. 

Only slightly though — Saskatchewan's percentage was 54.6 per cent, while Canada's was 55.2 per cent. 

In comparison, the 1991 agricultural census showed young farmers ran one in four farms while older farmers ran 37.7 per cent of them.
For those worried about where the next generation of farmers will come from, the report offers scant comfort.

"These ... trends were found in farms of different types and sizes in all provinces," the report written by Martin S. Beaulieu said.

"The trends of fewer operators, fewer young operators and fewer farms showed no signs of reversing."