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Census of Agriculture counts 558 farms in Newfoundland and Labrador

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On May 16, 2006, the Census of Agriculture counted 558 farms in Newfoundland and Labrador, a 13.2% decrease during the past five years. This is higher than the 7.1% decrease at the national level. On Census Day, there were 184 fewer farms in Newfoundland and Labrador compared to 1996. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.

Newfoundland and Labrador accounted for less than 1% of Canada’s 229,373 farms in 2006, unchanged from 2001.

At the same time, Newfoundland and Labrador reported 710 farm operators, a 9.0% decline from 2001.

Farm area

Farms in Newfoundland and Labrador averaged 160 acres of land in 2006, up from 156 acres five years earlier.

The total area of land on farms in Newfoundland and Labrador decreased 10.8% between 2001 and 2006 to 89,441 acres. It has less than 1% of the agricultural land in Canada.

Farmers reported 22,671 acres of cropland in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2006, up from 2001. Cropland is the total area in field crops, fruits, vegetables, sod and nursery.

Farm finance

Newfoundland and Labrador’s total gross farm receipts was $107.0 million in 2005, while operating expenses reached $91.9 million.

Government-funded program payments contributed to gross farm receipts. Farmers themselves contribute to many of these programs by paying premiums much like any insurance plan. According to Statistics Canada data on direct program payments to agriculture producers, in 2000 for Newfoundland and Labrador, 0.4% of receipts were from program payments; by 2005 the proportion had grown to 1.3%. The actual value of these payments increased from $368 thousand to $1.4 million (in current dollars) during this period.

According to the farm input price index (FIPI) and the farm product price index (FPPI), the inflation over this period on prices farmers had to pay for the inputs they purchased rose more quickly than the inflation on the prices they received for the products sold – 8.0% for the inputs versus 6.7% for products sold. At the Canada level, farm input prices rose 8.6% while farm product prices rose only 1.7%.

Overall, improved efficiency, increased program payments and higher production have helped to keep the ratios between expenses and receipts relatively stable. Newfoundland and Labradors’ operators were spending an average of 86 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2005, about one cent less than they spent in 2000.

The number of farms with less than $250,000 (at 2005 constant prices) of gross farm receipts declined by 14.2 % between censuses and those with $250,000 or more (at 2005 constant prices) also decreased by 5.6 %. There were 68 of these larger farms in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2006, and while they only represented 12.2% of the farms in the province, they accounted for 82.5% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2005.

Organic farms

According to the census there were 52 farms with organic production in Newfoundland and Labrador on census day, 9.3% of all farms in the province. Nationwide, 6.8% of all farms reported organic production.

For the first time, farmers were able to report on their census forms the status of organic products grown or raised. Of the 52 farms reporting organic products in Newfoundland and Labrador, 7.7% produced certified organic products, 1.9% were in transition to becoming certified and 94.2 % produced organic products but were not certified by a Certifying Agency. Farms can indicate more than one organic status.

The predominant group of organic products grown in Newfoundland and Labrador was fruit, vegetable or greenhouse products. They were reported on 57.7% of the province’s organic farms.

Farm operators

Of Newfoundland and Labradors’ 710 operators in 2006, 23.9% were women, up from 21.2% five years earlier. Nationally, 27.8% of farm operators in 2006 were women.

In 2005, about 51.4% of farmers worked more than 40 hours a week on their farm operations, up from 43.6% five years earlier. Nationwide, 46.7% of farmers worked more than 40 hours per week on their farms.

Nearly 45.8% of all farm operators had an off-farm job or business in 2005, compared to 48.1% in 2000. At the national level, 48.4% of farm operators had an off-farm job or business.

Census a snapshot

In spring 2006, when the data from the 2006 Census of Agriculture were being collected, farmers were facing a spring that had been preceded by one challenge after another: bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), avian influenza, circo virus in pigs, falling commodity prices and the rising cost of fertilizers, fuels and other inputs. Since then, some commodity prices have improved, particularly those associated with alternative fuel sources, and even the beleaguered beef industry is showing some recovery after four years of BSE-inflicted hardship. It’s a situation that offers an important reminder that the Census of Agriculture is a snapshot of Canada’s agriculture sector every five years and that the census cannot measure the rapid changes that wax and wane between census years.

Other highlights of Newfoundland and Labrador’s agriculture

  • In 2006, the area of barley at 76 acres increased from 13 acres in 2001. Likewise, the area of corn for silage at 1,698 acres increased from 342 acres in 2001. Most of these crops would have been used as feed for the expanding dairy sector.
  • In 2006, the area in blueberries at 1,918 acres was an increase of 60.2%, the highest rate of increase in Atlantic Canada since 2001.
  • The number of dairy cows at 6,259 head in 2006 is a 32.9% increase from 2001. Likewise, the number of dairy replacement heifers at 2,050 is 39.2% more than 2001.
  • The sharp decline of 41.2% in total sheep numbers in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2001 is higher than the nation-wide decline of 9.5%. The census counted 4,642 sheep and lambs in Newfoundland and Labrador on May 16, 2006.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador ranks 4th in the country with 80,189 mink in 2006.
  • The fox industry in Newfoundland and Labrador was the largest in Atlantic Canada, with 3,060 foxes. It also had the highest number of foxes per farm, reporting an average of 383 compared to a national average of 117.
  • In Newfoundland and Labrador, no-till methods were used on 5.7% of the land prepared for seeding in 2006, down from 12.0 % in 2001. Conventional tillage increased to 88.3% of land prepared for seeding, from 74.8% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on approximately 6.0% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 13.1% for 2001.
  • In 2006, 23 farms in Newfoundland and Labrador reported farm related injuries that required medical attention in the previous 12 months. Injuries were reported on 4.1% of the provinces’ farms compared to 6.0% of all farms in Canada.
  • About 38.9% of operations in Newfoundland and Labrador reported using a computer for farm business in 2006, compared to 31.9% of operations in 2001.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Newfoundland and Labrador for their participation and assistance in the 2006 Census of Agriculture.

For more information on this release, contact Gaye Ward (613-951-3172), Census of Agriculture, or Media Relations (613-951-4636).


Direct program payments to producers represent the amounts paid under various government agricultural programs to agriculture producers. Farmers themselves contribute to many of these programs by paying premiums much like any insurance plan.

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