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Saskatchewan's farm population: changes over a lifetime

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Saskatchewan's farm population continued its steady decline in numbers, dropping by 10.3% since 2001 to 111,600.

In 1931, when the farm population count in Saskatchewan was compiled for the first time, 564,012 people were living on a farm—61.2% of Saskatchewan's population. By 2006, the farm population accounted for only 11.5% of the province. In less than one lifetime Saskatchewan has moved from 2 in 3 inhabitants living on a farm to 1 in 9. At the same time, Saskatchewan's total population has grown from 921,785 in 1931 to 968,155 in 2006.

Early in the last century, farmers in the province worked on a large number of small farms. In 1931, there were 136,472 farms, with an average of 408 acres per farm. By 2006, the number had decreased to 44,329 farms, with an average of 1,450 acres per farm. However, the total farm area in Saskatchewan had increased, from 55.7 million acres in 1931 to 64.3 million acres in 2006.

Age of Saskatchewan's farm population

Saskatchewan 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 12.5% of the province's farm population, up from 6.2% in 1971. Those 65 and over in 2006 made up slightly more of the province's general population, at 15.4%.

Language profile of Saskatchewan's farm population

Of Saskatchewan's entire farm population in 2006, 86.1% reported English as their mother tongue, 2.0% reported French, and the remainder (11.9%) reported a mother tongue other than English or French. Of those who reported another language, the largest group was German followed by Ukrainian. The profile for the province's general population in 2006 was similar, with 85.9% reporting English as their mother tongue, 1.8% reporting French, and the remaining 12.3% citing another language. Of the other languages spoken by the province's general population, the German language was the largest group, followed by Cree and then Ukrainian.

Place of birth of Saskatchewan's farm population

The 2006 Census of Population counted 2,220 immigrants in Saskatchewan's farm population or 2.0% of the total provincial farm population. In 1971, immigrants made up 8.1% of the province's farm population. Conversely, immigrants made up 5.0% of the province's general population in 2006, down from 12.0% in 1971.

Americans were a significant proportion (26.1%) of Saskatchewan's immigrant farm population, but they made up only 11.3% of immigrants in the province's general population. About 22% of the province's immigrant farm population was from the United Kingdom, compared to about 16% of immigrants in the province's general population. The third most common place of birth for Saskatchewan's immigrant farm population was the Netherlands at 10.3%, compared to 2.8% in the province's general population.

Saskatchewan'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, 5,880 Saskatchewan farm families were involved in an incorporated farm. This is considerably less than the 33,120 Saskatchewan farm families involved in an unincorporated farm in 2006, down 14.6% from 38,790 families in 2001.

The median total income for Saskatchewan farm families on unincorporated farms in 2005 was $48,901, compared to $58,564 received by census families in the province's general population.

Education of Saskatchewan farm operators

In 2006, 7.9% of Saskatchewan farm operators had university degrees (bachelor level and above) up from 6.8% in 2001. Comparatively, approximately 16% of the province's total labour force fell into this category.

Proportionally more Saskatchewan farm operators reported apprenticeship or trades certificates or diplomas than the labour force (13.7% compared with 12.5%). 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 Saskatchewan's farm operators do

In the 2006 Census, about 39% of Saskatchewan farm operators reported their main occupation as non-agricultural. This increased from 32.6% since 2001 and suggests that more operators are working off the farm. A higher proportion of female operators in the province reported a non-agricultural occupation than males (57.1% versus 32.8%).

Among the non-agricultural occupations, the top occupation for Saskatchewan's male operators was transportation equipment operators and related workers, excluding labourers, while for women operators, clerical occupations were predominantly reported.