NewsBusinessDalhousie University Study: Shedding the Light on Rural-Urban Disconnect

Dalhousie University Study: Shedding the Light on Rural-Urban Disconnect


Following recent developments in Europe concerning farmers’ protests and amidst Canada’s ongoing agricultural debate, the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, in collaboration with Leger, has unveiled fresh research shedding light on the prevailing rural-urban disparity, according to a press release.

This study, based on a survey of over 1,600 respondents conducted in early February 2024, explores the varying perspectives across different generations regarding the stewardship of Canada’s farmlands by farmers, uncovering a notable generational gap in perceptions.

According to the release, the study reveals a stark contrast in confidence levels towards sustainable farming practices among various age groups. Among young Canadians aged 18-34, there is a notably lower level of confidence, with less than half (46%) believing in the capabilities of farmers as custodians of the land. In contrast, a substantial 73% of older respondents aged 55 and above express trust in farmers’ guardianship. Middle-aged participants (35-54 years) hold a more moderate perspective, with 60% indicating their confidence in farmers.

Examining Modern Agriculture Regionally

Throughout Canada’s expansive landscape, the embrace of modern agricultural methods and technologies exhibits regional disparities, although an overarching 54% of Canadians appreciate these advancements. The release states that Manitoba and Saskatchewan stand out, with 62% of residents acknowledging the adoption of modern practices. This regional analysis also underscores a generational consensus, particularly among older demographics, with 65% recognizing the transition towards modern agriculture.


Analyzing the Impact of Urban Centers on Rural Farms

Delving into the urban-rural interplay, the survey investigates the perceived influence of city residents on farming decisions. A modest yet noteworthy portion of rural participants (7%) feel a strong urban influence, contrasting with 32% who see it as moderate. Urban viewpoints echo this perception to some degree, albeit with less prominence, “showcasing the nuanced dynamics between urban and rural perspectives on agriculture,” according to the release.


Understanding Farming Challenges

Awareness of the diverse challenges confronting farmers today, from climate change to economic pressures, also varies by age. Older Canadians demonstrate higher levels of awareness, with 30% being very familiar with these issues, in contrast to just 12% among younger respondents. According to the release, “This gap highlights the need for increased education and dialogue across generations to foster a deeper understanding of the agricultural sector’s challenges.”

Bridging the Gap in Food Production Understanding

A substantial 64% of participants perceive a considerable gap in comprehension between consumers and farmers concerning the food production process. This perception is particularly prevalent among older Canadians, indicating a crucial opportunity for bridging communication and enhancing knowledge sharing between farmers and the broader community.

Shedding Light

The release states that “this survey not only sheds light on the diverse viewpoints across generations but also underscores the critical role of dialogue, education, and technology in shaping the future of Canadian agriculture. As we navigate the complexities of sustainable farming and climate mitigation, these insights offer a valuable foundation for fostering collaboration and understanding between farmers and the Canadian public.”

Janet Music, Research Manager of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University says these findings are incredibly illuminating. “The generational disparities in confidence levels towards sustainable farming practices underscore the importance of targeted education and outreach efforts, particularly among younger Canadians.”

“It’s evident that bridging the gap in understanding between consumers and farmers is essential for the future of Canadian agriculture,” says Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University. “Moreover, the regional perspective on modern agricultural practices highlights the need for tailored approaches to address varying needs and perceptions across different parts of the country. Overall, this report emphasizes the significance of fostering dialogue, enhancing awareness, and leveraging technology to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for Canadian farming.”

For more information and access to the full report, please visit

Trending This Week

Finally: A New (Desperately Needed) Solution for Potato Wart?

If you’re a potato producer who has never laid awake in the middle of the night worrying about potato wart, count yourself lucky. Potato...

One More Event For Your Calendar (& Why It’s Worth Your Time)

Welcome to winter… or as many of us in the potato world know it: conference month. With harvest comfortably behind us and planting on...

Loving the Challenges of Growing Potatoes

February is my favourite month of the year because it’s Potato Lovers Month, which has made me think about what exactly I love about...

2024 New Potato Varieties Catalogue for Canada

A look at latest potato varieties available for Canadian potato growers for the 2024 growing season. As thoughts turn towards with the upcoming growing season,...
Potatoes in storage

There’s Still Lots of Storage Season Left to Go…

Bad news first. It’s been a fairly challenging storage season so far in some regions with many producers reporting real difficulties in getting their...