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Census of Agriculture counts 30,675 farms in Quebec

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On May 16, 2006, the Census of Agriculture counted 30,675 farms in Quebec, a 4.6% decrease during the past five years. This is slightly lower than the 7.1% decrease at the national level. On Census Day, there were 5,316 fewer farms in Quebec compared to 1996. A census farm is an agricultural operation that produces an agricultural product intended for sale.

Quebec accounted for 13.4% of Canada’s 229,373 farms in 2006, slightly higher than the share in 2001. Quebec’s total ranked 4th in Canada.

At the same time, Quebec reported 45,470 farm operators, a 4.1% decline from 2001.

Farm area

Farms in Quebec averaged 279 acres of land in 2006, up from 263 acres five years earlier.

Total area of land on farms in Quebec increased 1.3% between 2001 and 2006 to 8.6 million acres in 2006. It has about 5.1% of the total farm area in Canada.

Farmers reported 4.8 million acres of cropland in Quebec in 2006, up 4.5% from 2001. The province accounts for about 5.4% of all cropland area in the nation. Cropland is the total area in field crops, fruits, vegetables, sod and nursery.

Farm finance

Quebec’s total gross farm receipts were 7.4 billion in 2005, while operating expenses reached 6.0 billion.

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 Quebec, 8.8% of receipts were from program payments; by 2005 the proportion had grown to 10.1%. The actual value of these payments increased from $541.5million to $749.3 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 they sold — 8.0% for inputs versus 5.4% 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. Operators were spending an average of 82 cents in expenses (excluding depreciation) for every dollar of receipts in 2005, about 1 cent less than they spent in 2000.

The number of farms with less than $250,000 of gross farm receipts (at 2005 constant prices) declined by 10.6% between censuses and those with $250,000 or more (at 2005 constant prices) increased by 18.1%. There were 8,011 of these larger farms in Quebec in 2006, and while they only represented 26.1% of farms in the province, they accounted for 79.1% of total provincial gross farm receipts reported for the year 2005.

Organic farms

According to the census there were 2,323 farms with organic production in Quebec on census day, 7.6% 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 2,323 farms reporting organic products in Quebec, 32.9% produced certified organic products, 5.4% were in transition to becoming certified and 64.6% 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 Quebec was hay or field crops. They were reported on 36.4% of the province’s organic farms.

Farm operators

Of Quebec’s 45,470 operators in 2006, 26.0% were women, up from 25.7% five years earlier. Nationally, 27.8% of farm operators in 2006 were women.

In 2005, about 57.0% of farmers worked more than 40 hours a week on their farm operations, up slightly from five years earlier. Nationwide, 46.7% of farmers worked more than 40 hours per week on their farms.

One-third of all farm operators had an off-farm job or business in 2005, compared to 30.4% 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, 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 Quebec agriculture

  • Between 2001 and 2006, Quebec passed Ontario as the top province in total fruit area. In 2006 fruit was grown on 69,791 acres.
  • The land area used for blueberry farming increased by 24.5% between 2001 and 2006 to reach 41,757 acres, the largest area of any province.
  • Quebec has the most maple taps of any province. In 2006, there were 34.7 million maple taps, 91.1% of total taps in the country.
  • The most common vegetable in Quebec is sweet corn with 25,828 acres in 2006. While this area decreased by 6.5% over the last 5 years, it still represents 24.8% of the total area dedicated to vegetables in Quebec.
  • Area dedicated to corn for grain in Quebec decreased by 7.0% between 2001 and 2006, now totaling 1.0 million acres. On the other hand, area of soybeans increased by 20.3%, reaching a new high of 440,245 acres in 2006.
  • The number of sheep and lambs increased in Quebec between 2001 and 2006 up 20.8% to 306,808. Quebec has the largest number of ewes in Canada at 181,509.
  • Quebec has the most dairy cows of any province. In 2006, there were 382,363 dairy cows in Quebec, just ahead of Ontario with 329,737 dairy cows. In 2006, 38.4% of Canadian dairy cows were in Quebec.
  • In 2006, Quebec reported the most pigs of any province. There were 4.3 million pigs, 28.3% of the Canadian total. The number of pigs stayed relatively stable between 2001 and 2006 with a 0.3% decrease.
  • In Quebec, no-till methods were used on 9.6% of the land prepared for seeding in 2006, up from 4.8% in 2001. Conventional tillage fell to 62.0% of land prepared for seeding, from 76.7% five years earlier. Conservation tillage was used on approximately 28.5% of the land prepared for seeding, compared to 18.5% of land in 2001.
  • In 2006, 1,962 farms in Quebec reported farm-related injuries that required medical attention in the year prior to the census. Injuries were reported on 6.4% of Quebec farms, compared to 6.0% of all farms in Canada.
  • About 51.7% of all operations reported using a computer for farm business in 2006, compared to 47.7% of operations in 2001.

Statistics Canada would like to thank the farming community of Quebec 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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