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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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