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Newfoundland and Labrador's farm population: changes over a lifetime

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Newfoundland and Labrador's farm population had increased by 0.7% since 2001 to 1,175.

In 1951, when the province's farm population count was compiled for the first time, 19,975 people were living on a farm—5.5% of the province's inhabitants. By 2006, the farm population accounted for only 0.2% of the province. In less than one lifetime Newfoundland and Labrador has moved from 1 in 18 inhabitants living on a farm to 1 in 430. At the same time, the province's total population has grown from 361,416 in 1951 to 505,470 in 2006.

In the middle of the last century, farmers in the province worked on a large number of small farms. In 1951, there were 3,626 farms, with an average of 23 acres per farm. By 2006, the number had decreased to 558 farms, with an average of 160 acres per farm. However, the total farm area in the province had increased, from 85,040 acres in 1951 to 89,441 acres in 2006.

Age of Newfoundland and Labrador's farm population

Newfoundland and Labrador has an aging population, and the story is no different for the province's farm population. In 2006 those aged 65 and older made up 9.6% of the farm population, up from 6.3% in 1971. Those 65 and over in 2006 made up slightly more of the province's general population, at 13.9%.

Language profile of Newfoundland and Labrador's farm population

Of the province's entire farm population in 2006, 99.3% reported English as their mother tongue, 0.6% reported French, and the remainder (0.1%) reported a mother tongue other than English or French. The profile for province's general population in 2006 differed, with 97.7% reporting English as their mother tongue, 0.4% reporting French, and the remaining 1.8% citing another language. Of the other languages spoken by the province's general population, the Montagnais-Naskapi languages were the largest group, followed by the Chinese languages and then German.

Place of birth of Newfoundland and Labrador's farm population

The 2006 Census of Population counted 30 immigrants in the province's farm population or 2.8% of the total provincial farm population. In 1971, immigrants made up 1.3% of the province's farm population. Conversely, immigrants made up 1.7% of the province's general population in 2006, which is unchanged from 1.7% in 1971.

The British were a significant proportion (45.2%) of the province's immigrant farm population, but they made up less than 28% of immigrants in the province's general population. About 26% of the province's immigrant farm population was from the United States, compared to about 17% of immigrants in the province's general population. Tied for the second most common place of birth for Newfoundland and Labrador's immigrant farm population was Germany at 25.9%, compared to 4.7% in the province's general population.

Newfoundland and Labrador's farm family finances

The total income of a census family is the sum of all incomes received during the calendar year preceding the census by all members of that family aged 15 years of age and over. Income includes wages and salaries, net farm income, net non-farm self-employment income, government transfer payments, investment income, retirement pensions, and other money income.

In 2006, 155 provincial farm families were involved in an incorporated farm. This is considerably less than the 365 farm families in the province involved in an unincorporated farm in 2006, down 17.7% from 440 families in 2001.

The median total income for farm families on unincorporated farms in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005 was $58,193, compared to $49,639 received by census families in the province's general population.

Education of Newfoundland and Labrador farm operators

In 2006, 15.4% of the province's farm operators had university degrees (bachelor level and above) relatively unchanged from 15.5% in 2001. Approximately 15% of the province's total labour force fell into this category.

Proportionally more farm operators reported apprenticeship or trades certificates or diplomas than the labour force (14.9% compared with 14.4%). This preference may well be the result of a number of factors, including time required away from the farm, and the preference for the more practical approach of college courses on animal care and field-cropping techniques.

What Newfoundland and Labrador's farm operators do

In the 2006 Census, about 63% of farm operators in Newfoundland and Labrador reported their main occupation as non-agricultural. This increased from 49.6% in 2001 and suggests that more operators are working off the farm. A higher proportion of the province's female operators reported a non-agricultural occupation than males (67.7% versus 61.4%).

Among the non-agricultural occupations, the top occupations for the province's male operators were occupations unique to forestry operations, mining, oil and gas extraction and fishing, excluding labourers, while for women operators, teachers and professors were predominantly reported.