Saskatchewan’s farms are bigger and being operated by an increasingly older demographic, according to a national report released Wednesday.
Statistics Canada found that the number of farms in the province decreased by 6.6 per cent since 2011, however the amount of farm area acres (61.6 million) remained virtually unchanged over the same time period.
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Agriculture economist Eric Micheels said the numbers highlight a transition toward larger farming operations, which has been happening for decades in North America.
“I think that’s a result of technological advances in both the seeds and the chemical inputs as well as machinery,” Micheels, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, said of the trend.
“If you look at machinery size, they’ve gotten a lot bigger so a farmer can run over more acres faster.”
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Micheels added that some operations may have “excess capacity in their labour” and wish to deploy staff over additional acres if options to rent or buy come up near the land they own.
The report also found that the average age of a farm operator in Saskatchewan is 55. That figure represents a 1.6 per cent increase from 2011.
Micheels said the slight uptick isn’t concerning, since the agricultural industry seems to be consistently repopulating itself with operators.
“The average [farmer] is going to be in that 52, 54-year-old range and that’s because that older end decides to retire and there’s that 25- to 35-year-old farmer that says I want to get in,” Micheels said.
“We’re in that range that we’ve kind of been in for maybe a decade or so, so I think it’s kind of within the normal range.”
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Saskatchewan’s agricultural trends almost mirror the national figures. The report shows that the number of Canadian farms decreased by 5.9 per cent and the average age of an operator is also 55.