The Canadian farm population is becoming more diverse while shrinking in size, according to the socioeconomic snapshot of Canada’s evolving farm population for 2021 from Statistics Canada. At 590,710 people Canada’s farm population represents 1.6 per cent of Canada’s total population.
“Immigrants contribute to the ethnocultural diversity of the farm population. This is important because a diversified farm population provides a broad range of skills, experiences, perspectives and cultural influences that can boost the potential for increased productivity within the agricultural sector,” the report said.
As of 2021, immigrants made up 6.9 per cent of Canada’s total farm population, up slightly from 6.8 per cent in 2001. Individuals from racialized groups accounted for 3.7 per cent of the total farm population in Canada, with 53 per cent from South Asian, 15.8 per cent Chinese, 5.9 per cent Black and 5.9 per cent Latin American.
There were 2.8 per cent of the Canadian farm population self-identifying as Indigenous in 2021, the report said. This was slightly higher than the 2001 numbers. Metis are the largest group among the Indigenous farm population at over two-thirds of the total.
Men remain the largest proportion of the farm population at 52.5 per cent. The report noted the Canadian farm population has a higher percentage of older people in it with 40.3 per cent in the farm population being 55 years and over, compared to 31.2 per cent of the total population.
Nearly three-quarters of the farm population reported a religious affiliation, which is higher than the total population, the release said. The most frequently reported religion in 2021 for farmers was Catholic, followed by Christian, not otherwise specified and then the United Church.
Across the Canadian population the size of households are decreasing with farm households following the trend, the report noted. In 1971, the average size of a farm household was 4.3 people, by 2021 it decreased to 2.8 people.
The farm population also follows the trend of the overall Canadian population with more people living in urban areas. In 1971, 7.5 per cent of the farm population resided in urban areas, the report said. By 2021, nearly one-quarter of the farm population were living in urban areas.