Thursday, August 11, 2011


I've been working on a couple of essays these past few weeks, and reading a lot, but haven't put together enough ideas for a meaty blog post. So, in lieu of theory or reflection, here are some statistics.* Let me know what you think of these trends.

The most recently published Statistics Canada census of agriculture, in 2006, saw a decrease of 5,196 farms in Saskatchewan from 2001 – or, 10.9%. The number of young farm operators in Canada (under the age of 40), including those working with older family members on farms, decreased 58% from 1991 to 2006: a decrease of 33% to 16% of all farm operators. In Saskatchewan, 10% of farms are operated by young farmers.

Farm size has increased correspondingly - from 2001-2006 alone, average farm size increased by a quarter section, from 1283 acres to 1450 acres. Changes in provincial land ownership laws in 2003, whereby land was opened up to non-resident, non-farmer ownership – residents of other provinces, numbered companies, investment companies - have opened the doors to investment in farmland by non-farmers, a growing trend. For example, One Earth Farms, controlled by investment firm Sprott Resource, leases 250,000 acres of First Nations land in Alberta and Saskatchewan to produce grains and livestock. Assiniboia Capital Corporation, based in Regina, owned roughly 100,000 acres of Saskatchewan farmland and had about $65-million in assets under management in 2010. Although foreign ownership of more than 10 acres is still prohibited, exemptions can be granted by the Farm Land Security Board, and foreign players can be minority partners in corporations that own land. 

Prices of farmland in Saskatchewan, while still on average less than those in the other prairie provinces, have also been steadily increasing since 2002 according to the Farm Credit Corporation, including an increase of 2.7% in the last six months of 2010. This adds up to a 44% increase over 2002 prices. 

*I have sources for all of these - Statistics Canada, FCC, various scholarly or news articles - but thought it would be a bit much to post them. Available on request.

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