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Census of Agriculture counts 3,795 farms in Nova Scotia

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On May 16, 2006, the Census of Agriculture counted 3,795 farms in Nova Scotia, a 3.3% decrease during the past five years. This is lower than the 7.1% decrease at the national level. On Census Day, there were 658 fewer farms in Nova Scotia compared to 1996. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.

Nova Scotia accounted for 1.7% of Canada’s 229,373 farms in 2006, which is comparable to its share in 2001. Nova Scotia’s total ranked seventh in Canada.

At the same time, Nova Scotia reported 5,100 farm operators, a slight increase from 2001.

Farm area

Farms in Nova Scotia averaged 262 acres of land in 2006, up from 256 acres five years earlier.

The total area of land on farms in Nova Scotia decreased 1.0% between 2001 and 2006 to 995,943 acres in 2006. It has less than one percent of the total farm area in Canada.

Farmers reported 288,146 acres of cropland in Nova Scotia in 2006, slightly down from 2001. Cropland is the total area in field crops, fruits, vegetables, sod and nursery.

Farm finance

Nova Scotia’s total gross farm receipts were $509.5 million in 2005, while operating expenses reached $442.5 million.

Government-funded program payments contributed significantly 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 Nova Scotia, 2.6% of receipts were from program payments; by 2005 the proportion had grown to 5.3%. The actual value of these payments increased from $12.0 million to $27.1 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 less quickly than the inflation on the prices they received for the products they sold — 8.0% for inputs versus 11.4% for products sold. At the Canada level, farm input prices rose 8.6% while farm product prices rose only 1.7%.

Nova Scotia operators were spending an average of 87 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2005, about three cents more than they spent in 2000.

The number of farms with less than $250,000 (at 2005 constant prices) of gross farm receipts declined by 3.1% between censuses and those with $250,000 or more (at 2005 constant prices) also decreased by 4.1%. There were 493 of these larger farms in Nova Scotia in 2006, and while they represented only 13.0% of farms in the province, they accounted for 77.5% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2005.

Organic farms

According to the census there were 359 farms with organic production in Nova Scotia on census day, 9.5% 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 359 farms reporting organic products in Nova Scotia, 17.0% produced certified organic products, 3.9% were in transition to becoming certified and 81.9% 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 Nova Scotia was fruits, vegetables, or greenhouse products. They were reported on 51.3% of the province’s organic farms.

Farm operators

Of Nova Scotia’s 5,100 operators in 2006, 24.6% were women, up from 21.3% five years earlier. Nationally, 27.8% of farm operators in 2006 were women.

In 2005, 40.5% of farmers worked more than 40 hours a week on their farm operations, relatively unchanged from five years earlier. Nationwide, 46.7% of farmers worked more than 40 hours per week on their farms.

Nearly half (48.4%) of all farm operators had an off-farm job or business in 2005, unchanged from 2000. This corresponds to the share nationally.

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, circovirus 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 Nova Scotia agriculture

  • Barley in Nova Scotia decreased by 38.3%, with 7,268 acres reported in 2006, while corn for silage increased 37.5%, to 10,210 acres in 2006.
  • Alfalfa area increased by 20.0% between the censuses, for a total of 38,040 acres reported in Nova Scotia in 2006. All other tame hay and fodder crops for hay and silage (such as clover, sorghum, etc.) decreased 3.3%, to 148,289 acres, but still made up 51.5% of the land devoted to cropland in Nova Scotia.
  • Within the Atlantic provinces Nova Scotia dominates in vegetables, making up over half (52.8%) of the land in the region dedicated to vegetable production. Nova Scotia’s top vegetables are carrots and broccoli, with 2,337 and 791 acres dedicated to the crops, respectively.
  • Nova Scotia continues to have the largest acreage of Christmas trees in the country, with 22,570 acres making up 29.8% of the country’s total.
  • Although Nova Scotia saw a 6.7% decline in area devoted to apples, the province continued to have the majority of Atlantic Canada’s area in apples, with 6,109 of the region’s 7,035 acres.
  • Grape land in Nova Scotia increased 73.8%, with 466 acres in 2006, up from 268 acres in 2001. Nova Scotia is the Atlantic’s fruit basket, making up the majority of the region’s land dedicated to pears, plums, and cherries, among other fruits.
  • Blueberries continue to be an important crop in Nova Scotia, with the province’s farms reporting 38,634 acres, up 3.0% from 2001. Nova Scotia makes up 30.5% of the country’s total blueberry area.
  • Total area under glass in Nova Scotia is 3.4 million square feet, up 10.4% from 2001. Nova Scotia has the largest area of land devoted to greenhouses in the Atlantic provinces, with 70.7% of its area dedicated to flowers, 19.6% dedicated to greenhouse vegetables, and 8.3% dedicated to other greenhouse products (cuttings, tree seedlings, etc.).
  • Nova Scotia continues to have the most poultry production in the Atlantic region, with 41.0 million kilograms of chicken and 4.5 million kilograms of turkey in 2005 (on a live weight basis). Broiler production was up 11.5% from 2000; turkey production was up 7.1%.
  • Sheep and goat numbers in the province both saw slight increases from the previous census, up to 25,195 and 2,111 animals, respectively. Nova Scotia has about 60% of the Atlantic herd for both types of animals.
  • Pigs dropped 23.9% in Nova Scotia, with 95,131 of the animals reported in 2006, down from 124,935 in 2001.
  • Mink numbers in Nova Scotia increased significantly since the last census, with the total climbing to 948,000, up 89.0% from 2001. Nova Scotia ranks first in the country for mink farming, with 49.8% of the country’s mink.
  • In Nova Scotia, no-till methods were used on 13.7% of the land prepared for seeding in 2006, up from 8.3% in 2001. Conventional tillage fell to 65.9% of land prepared for seeding, from 71.3% five years earlier. In both Census years, conservation tillage was used on approximately 20% of the land prepared for seeding.
  • In 2006, 195 farms in Nova Scotia reported farm-related injuries that required medical attention in the previous 12 months. Injuries were reported on 5.1% of Nova Scotia farms, compared to 6.0% of all farms in Canada.
  • About 43.6% of all operations in Nova Scotia reported using a computer for farm business in 2006, compared to 36.2% of operations in 2001.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Nova Scotia 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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