Selected Historical Data from the Census of Agriculture

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By looking at the past we can better understand present situations and project future developments.

Selected Historical Data from the Census of Agriculture is one of the electronic data products from the 2006 Census of Agriculture. Data users have repeatedly emphasized their need for easy access to historical data from the Census of Agriculture. Our response, this 2006 Internet data product, is easily accessible, useful and informative. Data are presented in clear, concise tables at the national and provincial levels.

This convenient product traces trends in Canadian agriculture over the past 85 years—from the first census of the 1920s to the most recent. The nature and scope of the questions included in the Census of Agriculture have changed considerably between 1921 and 2006 to reflect the dynamic and increasingly complex nature of the agriculture sector.

Between 1921 and 1956, the census was conducted every 10 years. As a result, the number of data variables that can be compared over the entire 85-year period is limited. Most of the tables presented focus on the past 30 years (i.e., data from the 1976 to 2006 Censuses of Agriculture) in order to significantly increase the number of comparable data variables and to provide the historical data required by a larger proportion of data users.

How this data product is organized

Selected Historical Data from the Census of Agriculture contains 39 data tables, each presenting selected variables at the Canada and province levels. Canada level figures do not include data for Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut. The data tables are organized into six sections, either according to the time period covered (1921 to 2006, 1976 to 2006, 1991 to 2006, 2001 and 2006) or by subject: for example, farm types, techniques and technology or farm operator characteristics.

Section 1, A statistical portrait of agriculture, consists of four tables that highlight the past 85 years of agriculture in Canada by presenting selected data from the 15 Censuses of Agriculture conducted between 1921 and 2006. In addition to the number of census farms, the tables provide counts, totals and averages for 17 selected land use, crop, livestock, poultry and farm machinery variables.

Section 2, Agricultural perspectives from seven censuses, contains 22 data tables in two formats, presenting data from the 1976 to 2006 Censuses of Agriculture. Some display counts and percentage distributions for selected farm classification variables. Others provide counts, totals, averages and percentage changes for a broad range of land use, crop, livestock, poultry and farm machinery variables.

Section 3, Farm types, comprises two tables that provide counts and percentage distributions by industry and industry group for the North American Industry Classification System. This new data series compares only 2001 and 2006 data, as yet the only two years available for this classification system.

Section 4, Focus on selected commodities, shows size class distributions for selected crop, livestock and poultry variables.

Section 5, Techniques and technology, contains two tables that provide data for new developments in agriculture such as land management practices and computer use in managing the farm.

Section 6, Characteristics of farm operators, comprises three tables that present number and percentage distribution of farm operators by sex, age and paid non-farm work since the 1991 Census of Agriculture.

Other sections in this electronic data product provide information that relates to or clarifies the data presented:

General notes offers help in understanding and interpreting the data. The notes in this section pertain to such items as conversion factors, rounding figures, confidentiality procedures, data inconsistencies and a description of the Headquarters Rule.

Census terms clarifies the meaning of key census concepts and variables.

Data quality briefly describes the most common types of errors that occur when census data are collected and processed and outlines the measures taken to ensure that 2006 Census of Agriculture data are of high quality.