150 years of Canadian Agriculture

Release date: June 27, 2017
Infographic: 150 years of Canadian Agriculture
Description: 150 years of Canadian Agriculture

Since Confederation (1867), the number of agricultural operations in Canada has shrunk, but agricultural operations have grown in acreage and sales.

Total number of farms and average acres per farm, 1817 to 2016 census years
Year Total number of farms Average acres per farm
Note: 1871 to 1951 Census done every 10 years. 1956 to 2016 Census done every 5 years.
1871 367,862 98
1881 464,025 98
1891 620,486 97
1901 511,073 124
1911 682,329 160
1921 711,090 198
1931 728,623 224
1941 732,832 237
1951 623,087 279
1956 574,993 302
1961 480,877 359
1966 430,503 404
1971 366,110 463
1976 338,552 499
1981 318,361 511
1986 293,089 572
1991 280,043 598
1996 276,548 608
2001 246,923 676
2006 229,373 728
2011 205,730 778
2016 193,492 820

An average farm had:

  • In 1871 4 pigs, 7 head of cattle, and 33 acres of cropland.
  • In 2016 73 pigs, 65 head of cattle, and 483 acres of cropland.

What's changed in 150 years?

Canada had 14 times as much wheat, 10 times as many pigs and 5 times as many cattle in 2016 as in 1871.

Farm sales 1900 and 2015
Year Total farm sales in Canada Average sales per farm
Note: In 1900, one dozen eggs cost $0.26, and one loaf of bread cost $0.04.Footnote 1
1900 $364.9 million $714
2015 $69.4 billion $358,503

From horses to horsepower - There were 3 times more horses in 1871 as in 2016.

Value of equipment and machinery per farm
Year Average value of equipment and machinery per farm
1901 $213
1951 $3,103
1976 $26,685
2001 $134,125
2016 $278,405

Source: Census of Agriculture, 1871 to 2016. Bank of Canada-Purchasing power of the Canadian dollar.

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