CFR is on the move!

The Canadian Farm Realty team will be at these upcoming trade shows:

January 10 & 11, 2018 at St. Jean Farm Days in St. Jean, MB

January 10 & 11, 2018 at Eastern MB Dairy Seminar in Friedensfeld, MB

January 16-18, 2018 at MB Ag Days in Brandon, MB

January 25-27, 2018 at the Pacific Ag Show in Abbotsford, BC

January 31, 2018 at Carman Dairy Day in Carman, MB


We’d love to see you, so stop in and chat with us!

Manitoba: Friendly for young farm operators

Results from the 2016 Census of Agriculture show that Manitoba had the largest proportion of farm operators under 35 years of age and the second youngest population of farm operators in Canada.

Total cropland was up 7.3% due in part to area that was flooded and fallow at the time of the 2011 Census, returning to production by the 2016 Census.

Soybean area more than doubled from 2011, the largest increase in soybean area in Canada. Manitoba now accounts for almost one-third of the total soybean area in Canada. Area seeded to dry field peas and corn for grain was also up sharply from 2011.

Chart 1 Total area of soybeans, Canada, 2016
Data table for Chart 1

Canola remained the largest field crop area in Manitoba in 2016, but area was down slightly from 2011.

Manitoba reported the third largest number of pigs in Canada in 2016, with numbers up by almost one-fifth from 2011, the largest increase in Canada. Hog and pig farms reported the second highest sales by farm type in the province in 2016.

The sheep flock in Manitoba rose by over 40% from 2011, the largest increase in the country and counter to the decline at the national level.

Primary agriculture represented 4.5% of provincial gross domestic product (agricultural GDP) in 2013. This percentage increased to 10.3% when agricultural input and service providers, primary producers, food and beverage processors, and food retailers and wholesalers industries were taken into account (Statistics Canada. 2013. Special tabulation, based on 2013 gross domestic product by industry – provincial and territorial).

Agricultural operations in Manitoba employed 18,737 people in 2015.

Manitoba has the second youngest population of farm operators in Canada

There were 14,791 census farms in Manitoba in 2016, down 6.8% from 2011 and larger than the 5.9% decline at the national level. The number of operations in Manitoba has been steadily declining since 1941.

Chart 2 Total number of operations, Manitoba, 1921 to 2016
Data table for Chart 2

There were 20,140 farm operators in Manitoba in 2016, down 9.8% from 2011. Women accounted for 23.8% of farm operators in Manitoba in 2016, up slightly from 23.6% in 2011 but below the national average of 28.7%.

With an average age of 53.8 years, Manitoba has the second youngest population of farm operators in Canada. Quebec ranked first with an average age of 52.9 years. Only Manitoba and Quebec have an average operator age below the national average of 55.0 years.

From 2011 to 2016, the proportion of farm operators in the oldest age category (55 years of age and older) increased to 52.1%. However, a higher proportion of young operators (under 35 years old) lessened the increase in the average farm operator age in Manitoba, which rose from 53.1 years in 2011 to 53.8 years in 2016.

Table 1
Proportion of farm operators by age group, Manitoba, 2011 and 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Proportion of farm operators by age group. The information is grouped by Age group (appearing as row headers), 2011 and 2016, calculated using Percent of farm operators units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group 2011 2016
Percent of farm operatorsTable 1 Note 1
Under 35 years old 8.8 10.8
35 to 54 years old 45.7 37.1
55 years and older 45.5 52.1
Total farm operators 100.0 100.0

In 2015, 44.4% of farm operators in Manitoba worked more than 40 hours a week on average on agricultural operations, compared with 46.6% in 2010.  At the national level, this percentage was 37.5% in 2015.

Fewer farmers worked off the farm in 2015, with 42.9% of farm operators in Manitoba reporting an off farm job compared with 46.2% in 2010. Nationally, 44.4% of farm operators worked off the farm.

Flooded area in 2011 back in production

The total farm area over which farmers had stewardship in Manitoba decreased 2.1% from 2011 to 17.6 million acres in 2016. While the total farm area fell, the average farm size grew from 1,135 acres to 1,193 acres during the same period, indicating consolidation.

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Total farm area, which is land owned or operated by an agricultural operation, includes:

  • cropland;
  • summerfallow;
  • improved and unimproved pasture;
  • woodlands and wetlands;
  • all other land (including idle land, and land on which farm buildings are located).

End of text box

Cropland rose 7.3% to 11.5 million acres in 2016 with Manitoba accounting for 12.3% of all cropland in Canada. From 2011 to 2016, there were shifts in cropland area away from hay to field crops. The return of land which had been fallow in 2011 due to flooding accounted for much of the increase in cropland in Manitoba between the censuses.

Table 2
Components of cropland in percentage, Manitoba, 2011 and 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Components of cropland in percentage. The information is grouped by Component of cropland (appearing as row headers), 2011 and 2016, calculated using Percent of cropland units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Component of cropland 2011 2016
Percent of croplandTable 2 Note 1
Field crops 82.9 86.8
Hay 17.0 13.1
OthersTable 2 Note 2 0.1 0.1
Total cropland 100.0 100.0

Canola is the leading crop

Canola remained the leading field crop by area in Manitoba, followed by spring wheat and soybeans. Oilseed and grain type farms are the most common farm type in Manitoba, with 65.3% of the total farm land being used to grow field crops and hay.

Chart 3 Total number of operations by farm type, Manitoba, 2016
Data table for Chart 3

Manitoba’s spring wheat area ranked third in Canada, accounting for 28.3% of all field crop area in the province. Moreover, while Manitoba ranked second in soybean area in Canada, it also reported the largest absolute growth for the crop, adding 940,365 more acres since 2011. Manitoba also exceeded national growth rates for dry field peas (up 311.9%) and corn for grain (up 72.8%) and ranked third in terms of total field crop area.

Crop rotations such as those involving wheat, corn and pulses offer environmental and agronomic benefits including boosting biodiversity and breaking pest cycles while also increasing nutrient utilization. This practice improves capital and labour utilization by staggering planting and harvest windows and helps to manage business risk by varying products and hedges against commodity specific environmental and disease pressures.

Table 3
Largest three field crops, Manitoba, 2011 and 2016
Table summary
This table displays the results of Largest three field crops. The information is grouped by Field crop (appearing as row headers), 2011 and 2016, calculated using Acreage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Field crop 2011 2016
Canola 3,288,594 3,199,644
Spring wheat 2,586,198 2,826,735
Soybeans 705,032 1,645,397

Decline in sweet corn contributes to lower field vegetable area

Field vegetable area declined 7.3% in Manitoba to 4,789 acres in 2016, largely due to a drop in sweet corn area. Sweet corn area has fallen by nearly one-third since 2011, accounting for 70.8% of the total decrease in field vegetable area.

The total area of land in fruits, berries and nuts decreased 14.0% to 694 acres in 2016, largely attributable to a drop in Saskatoon berries. Strawberries were the leading fruits, berries and nuts commodity in terms of area at 308 acres, followed by Saskatoon berries (199 acres). Manitoba reported the smallest fruits, berries and nuts area in Canada.

The greenhouse flower and vegetable production area grew 4.9% from 2011 to 3.2 million square feet in 2016.  The majority of the area under glass was dedicated to flowers (81.6%).

The number of pigs in Manitoba up from 2011

The number of pigs in Manitoba rose 18.7% from 2011 to 3.4 million head in 2016, the largest absolute increase in pigs in Canada. Hog and pig type farms accounted for 16.8% of all gross farm receipts in Manitoba at $1.1 billion, the second largest sales figure by farm type. Manitoba also had the third largest number of pigs in Canada following Quebec and Ontario.

The growth was due to better market conditions, which boosted the price of pigs relative to the period preceding the last census. Prior to the 2011 Census of Agriculture, the pig sector had been beset by high feed costs, disease and low pig prices, resulting in significantly fewer farms and a smaller pig herd (CANSIM table 002-0068, accessed April 25, 2017).

The number of dairy cows in Manitoba decreased 6.6% from 2011 to 39,083 head in 2016, while the number of farms reporting dairy cows declined 17.4%. Milk production increased 6.1% over this period (CANSIM table 003-0011, accessed April 25, 2017). While there were fewer dairy cows, this was offset by increased production per animal, attributable to improved animal nutrition, genetics and production practices.

The number of beef cattle declined 7.9% from 2011 to 636,543 head in 2016, as some producers sold stock to take advantage of higher prices and retire or shift to other types of agricultural production. The number of farms reporting beef cattle declined 14.1%.

The sheep flock grew 43.2% to 90,423 animals in 2016. This was the largest increase in Canada and counter to the national trend, where the sheep flock declined by 4.9%.

Gross farm receipts increase faster than expenses

Gross farm receipts rose to $6.8 billion in 2015, while operating expenses increased to $5.6 billion. For every dollar in sales, farms on average incurred 81 cents in operating expenses in 2015 for an expense-to-receipt ratio of 0.81, down from 0.83 in 2010.

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The expense-to-receipt ratio is the average amount of operating expenses incurred for a dollar in farm receipts. The ratio is calculated in current dollars.

Price indices were used to obtain constant dollar estimates of receipts, expenditures and capital values in order to eliminate the impact of price changes in year-to-year comparison.

Census Day was May 10, 2016. Farmers were asked to report their receipts and expenses for the last complete fiscal or calendar year (2015).

End of text box

The expense-to-receipt ratio varied among farm types.  In 2015, operations of the dairy and milk farm type had the lowest expense-to-receipt ratio at 0.79, up from 0.77 in 2010.

More than half of the gross farm receipts in Manitoba were reported on oilseed and grain type farms. The expense-to-receipt ratio on oilseed and grain type farms deteriorated from 0.78 in 2010 to 0.80 in 2015.

Other agriculture highlights in Manitoba

  • In Manitoba, 3.5% of farms reported having renewable energy producing systems in 2015, compared with 5.3% nationally.
  • In Manitoba, 22.2% of farms reported being incorporated in 2016, up from 17.6% in 2011. Nationally, incorporated farms accounted for 25.1% of all farms in 2016.
  • The 2016 Census of Agriculture marked the first time farm operators were asked if farm operations had a written succession plan. In 2016, 8.1% of farms in Manitoba had a written succession plan compared with 8.4% nationally.
  • The proportion of farms producing organic products in Manitoba was stable from 2011 to 2016 at 1.1%. Nationally, farms producing organic products accounted for 2.2% of the total farms in 2016.
  • In Manitoba, 35.1% farms reported using automated steering technology in 2015.
  • The value of the land and buildings per acre in Manitoba increased 64.5% (in 2016 constant dollars) from 2011 to $1,919 per acre in 2016. At the national level, this value was $2,696 per acre.
  • In Manitoba, 6.1% of farms reported selling agricultural products directly to consumers in 2015.

Canada 150: Farming in Manitoba

Manitoba joined Confederation on July 15, 1870. In 1881, the first census year in which the province of Manitoba was included, there were 9,077 reported farms in the province, 51,293 acres of wheat, 60,381 cattle and 17,358 hogs. While wheat is still prevalent in the province, totalling 3.0 million acres in 2016, a large portion of Manitoba’s cropland is now dedicated to oilseeds, particularly canola and soybeans, which accounted for 48.4% of the province’s field crop area in 2016. There were 3.4 million hogs reported in the province in 2016, nearly 195 times more than in 1881.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Manitoba for their participation and assistance in the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

Start of text box

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 Yukon and the 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 Yukon and the Northwest Territories are presented separately.

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 2012 North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS).

P.T.O. hp (Power Take Off horsepower): The measure of the power available from a tractor engine to drive implements.

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.

Total operating expenses: The Census of Agriculture measures operating expenses for the calendar or accounting year prior to the census. Total operating expenses include:

  • any expense associated with producing agricultural products (such as the cost of seed, feed, fuel, fertilizers, etc.).

The following are not included in total operating expenses:

  • the purchase of land, buildings or equipment;
  • depreciation or capital cost allowance. Depreciation represents economic “wear and tear” expense. Capital cost allowance represents the amount of depreciation written off by the tax filer as allowed by tax regulations.

2010 to 2015: 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.

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, 2016.

End of text box

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free or Media Relations (

Prairie Farmers drive gains in field crop area

Total farm area decreased 0.9% from 160.2 million acres in 2011 to 158.7 million acres in 2016. Shifts in tenure were responsible for some of this decline, as rental agreements tend to cover only productive land. The area of cropland increased as farmers cleared, drained and upgraded marginal lands to support crop production, shifted practices to reduce the need for summerfallow, and returned land which had been flooded in 2011 back into production. While cropland grew, woodlands and wetlands as well as pasture decreased.

Farm size varied considerably based on region and farm type. The largest operations on average were found in Saskatchewan (1,784 acres), while the smallest on average were located in Newfoundland and Labrador (174 acres).

Field crop area grew from 69.7 million acres in 2011 to 78.5 million acres in 2016, largely driven by increases in the Prairie provinces. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the return of cropland, which had been reported as idle in the last census due to flooding, contributed to the rise in field crop area. Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick were the only provinces to report a decrease in field crop area from 2011 to 2016.

The area of hay and alfalfa cropland declined 16.6% (-2.8 million acres), while the area of pasture decreased 4.4% (-2.2 million acres), due in part to a smaller beef herd. Some of the hay and pasture land was converted to field crop production.

More oilseed and grain-type farms

Oilseed and grain-type farms remain the most common type of farm, increasing from 30.0% in 2011 to 32.9% in 2016 (Chart 3). In the Prairie provinces, 46.3% of farms fell into this farm type. Beef-type farms remain the second most common farm type, accounting for 18.6% of agricultural operations, up slightly from 18.2% in 2011.

Corporations more likely to have succession plans

The transfer of agricultural assets as farmers transition out of the sector can happen in a number of ways. Farm assets can be sold in whole or in part and the buyer can be a new entrant or someone looking to expand their existing operation. Farm operations can also be transferred to other parties via a will or written succession plan.

In 2016, 8.4% of farms nationally reported having a written succession plan. Among sole proprietorships, 4.9% had a written succession plan compared with 16.3% of family and non-family corporations.

Just over half (51.7%) of all Canadian farms were sole proprietorships in 2016. Partnerships accounted for 22.9% of farms, while 22.5% were family corporations and 2.7% were non-family corporations. The rate of incorporation among farm operations rose from 19.8% in 2011 to 25.1% in 2016.

Younger operators and women make up a larger share of farmers

The 2016 Census of Agriculture counted 271,935 farm operators on agricultural operations, down from 293,925 in 2011. Farm operators under 35 years of age accounted for an increasing share of total operators and their absolute numbers also rose—from 24,120 in 2011 to 24,850 in 2016. This was the first absolute increase in this category of operators since 1991.

However, the fastest growing age group was farm operators aged 55 years and older (Table 1). The average age of operators—individuals who make management decisions for the agricultural enterprise—edged up from 54.0 years in 2011 to 55.0 years in 2016. This trend parallels the ageing of the general population. Among Canadians aged 15 to 64, the share of people aged 55 to 64 years old (all baby boomers) reached a record high 21.0% in 2016 (Statistics Canada. 2017. Recent trends for the population aged 15 to 64 in Canada. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. Catalogue number98-200-X2016003, accessed May 3, 2017).

Women account for an increasing share of farm operators, rising from 27.4% in 2011 to 28.7% in 2016. In the 2016 Census of Agriculture, 77,970 women were listed as farm operators. Women were most prevalent among farm operators aged 35 to 54 years (30.7%), followed by those aged 55 and older (27.7%) and those under 35 years of age (26.4%).

Fewer but larger farms

The results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture show that the agriculture industry continues to consolidate. There were 193,492 farms counted in 2016, down 5.9% from the previous census in 2011. However, this was the lowest rate of decline in 20 years.

While farm numbers have declined, the average area per farm increased from 779 acres in 2011 to an average of 820 acres in 2016.

The area dedicated to cropland rose 6.9% from 2011 to 93.4 million acres (Chart 2) in 2016, as land that was flooded during the 2011 Census was brought back into production, use of summerfallow decreased and marginal land was converted into productive cropland.

2016 Census of Agriculture

Farm operators are slightly older and there are fewer farms in Canada than in 2011, but farms are on average larger and more area is devoted to crop production according to the results from the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

Over the next six weeks, articles digging deeper into different aspects of Canadian agriculture will be published with further analysis of census results.

Total farm area: Census of Agriculture — Canada

158.7 million acres

decrease-0.9% (period-to-period change)

Agricultural data has been collected in Canada since 1666 and 2016 marks the 22nd Census of Agriculture since Confederation. The census paints a sweeping picture of the agricultural sector. It tracks changes in crops and livestock, as well as the evolution of farming practices and mechanization, from the power of horses to horsepower. Canadian farmers have continually taken advantage of technological advances to more efficiently deliver a wider variety of agricultural products to Canadians and the world.

Total number of agricultural operations, Canada, 1961 to 2016

Chart 1: Total number of agricultural operations, Canada, 1961 to 2016

While total farm area edged down from 2011, the area dedicated to cropland rose to 93.4 million acres in 2016. Although urbanization may reduce cropland available in some areas, a net increase in cropland is attributable to a shift in land use. Farmers have converted land formerly used as pasture, summerfallow or other less productive land into productive area. Canola remains the biggest crop, accounting for more than one-fifth of all cropland.

Land in crops (excluding Christmas trees): Census of Agriculture — Canada

93.4 million acres

increase6.9% (period-to-period change)

The number of farm operators declined from 2011 while the average age continued to rise. However, the proportion of operators under 35 years of age edged up for the first time since 1991. Despite the increase in the average age, only 1 in 12 operations reported having a formal succession plan laying out how the operation will be transferred to the next generation of farmers.

Average age of farm operators: Census of Agriculture — Canada


increase 1.9% (period-to-period change)

Primary agriculture accounted for 1.5% of national gross domestic product (agricultural gross domestic product) in 2013. However, this percentage rises to 4.6% when agricultural input and service providers, primary producers, food and beverage processors, agriculture food retail and wholesale industries are taken into account (Statistics Canada. 2013. Special tabulation, based on 2013 gross domestic product by industry).

Agricultural operations in Canada employed 280,315 people in 2015. From a trade perspective, agricultural goods accounted for 2.2% of Canada’s total imports and 4.6% of total exports (CANSIM table 228-0059, accessed April 13, 2017). In terms of value, almost one-third of Canadian agricultural production was exported in 2013 (CANSIMtable 381-0033,accessed April 13, 2017).

Farm Income Key to Farmland Values: Gervais


Since peaking with a 22.1% year-over-year increase in 2013, annual gains in Canadian farmland values have slowed for three consecutive years.

But Farm Credit Canada Chief Economist J.P. Gervais isn’t worried about those slowing gains turning into actual declines, as long farm income can hold up. And in a webinar Tuesday, he said he remains confident Canadian farm income can do just that, even in the wake of swelling global grain supplies and generally lower commodity prices.

“The key (for farmland values) moving forward is, are we going to be able to sustain farm income? And I have every reason to believe we’re going to do that.”

Earlier this month, FCC’s annual Farmland Values Report showed Canadian farmland values increased an average of 7.9 % in 2016, compared to a 10.1% increase in 2015 and a 14.3 % increase in 2014. The report attributed the slowing gains to the levelling out of commodity prices and some “challenging weather conditions,” particularly on the Prairies where overly wet growing conditions resulted in quality problems and a large amount of crop that was stranded in the field at harvest.

But in taking a closer look at the report, Gervais pointed out that none of the 51 regions across Canada where land values were examined actually saw a decline compared to a year earlier. Indeed, there were only seven regions were land values were actually flat, while the remainder all showed at least some measure of increase.

In general, Gervais said the increases in Canadian farmland values reflect the gains in farm income. For example, there was a massive increase in farm cash receipts (mainly due to sharply higher crop prices and rising production) from 2005 into 2014, a period when farmland values were increasing sharply as well. In fact, during the last four years of that period, from 2011 to 2014, nationwide farmland values increased an average of 17.6%. In comparison, in the prior period from 2000 to 2003, farmland values climbed much more modestly, averaging only a 3% gain.

For 2016 and this year as well, Gervais said the forecast for Canadian farm income is mostly steady, as the lower Canadian dollar (compared to the U.S. dollar) helps to support returns on this side of the border.

With little upside expected in oil prices – one of the main drivers of the Canadian dollar – he said he believes the loonie will average about 75 cents US in 2017, enough of a discount to the American greenback that Canadian farmers will do better financially compared to their U.S. counterparts. In contrast, a move to around the 85-cent level would likely be enough to push some returns into the red, he added.

“The Canadian dollar has a tremendous impact on the marketplace.”

Also helping to support Canadian farmland values going forward should be the continuation of low interest rates. Although he said he doesn’t expect the Bank of Canada to raise its key benchmark rate this year, Gervais warned that it’s still likely Canadian farmers will see some increase in borrowing costs in 2017, simply because of the trend higher south of the border.

Regardless, the increases are likely to be modest, still keeping borrowing costs historically low, Gervais said.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

Information contained herein is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed by the parties providing it. Syngenta, DePutter Publishing Ltd. and their information sources assume no responsibility or liability for any action taken as a result of any information or advice contained in these reports, and any action taken is solely at the liability and responsibility of the user.