2011 Census of Agriculture - Privacy impact assessment


The Census of Agriculture is the only source of data to provide a comprehensive and integrated profile of the physical, economic, social and environmental aspects of Canada’s agriculture industry. The Census of Agriculture collects data for all farms operating in Canada, regardless of size.

Statistics Canada must conduct the Census of Agriculture every five years as required by the Statistics Act. It has a longstanding relationship with the quinquennial Census of Population and the two censuses have been conducted concurrently since 1956.


Although the two censuses share many collection operations, a decision was made that a separate privacy impact assessment was needed to address new activities for the 2011 Census of Agriculture where there were specific privacy, confidentiality and security risks. This assessment will not address the majority of joint activities with the Census of Population which have been addressed in the 2011 Census of Population Privacy Impact Assessment, the 2006 Census of Population Privacy Impact Assessment and the Generic Privacy Impact Assessment for Statistics Canada Surveys.

Therefore this assessment identifies and addresses unique privacy concerns related to the 2011 Census of Agriculture and makes recommendations for their resolution or mitigation.  They are: asking for the farm operation’s Business Number on the agriculture census questionnaire; addressing the mail-out questionnaire to the farm operator(s) by name; and using a centralized telephone interview for all follow-up, which eliminates the local enumerator role. As well, the shared activity of using the Internet to complete a census questionnaire is examined.


The Census of Agriculture questionnaire collects data from about 230,000 farm operations (which are run by over 327,000 farm operators) across Canada. The questionnaire covers a broad range of agricultural questions which touch virtually all aspects of Canadian agriculture. Its aggregated data are available at low levels of geography on topics such as the area of land, crop areas, greenhouses and nursery products, land management practices, poultry and livestock counts, machinery numbers and values, expenses, receipts and paid labour.


This assessment of the 2011 Census of Agriculture, in combination with other assessments mentioned above, did not identify any privacy risks that cannot be managed using existing safeguards or specific measures that have been put in place for the 2011 Census of Agriculture.

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