Canada’s farm statistics need all of our attention

Canada is continuously gaining more people, while we are losing our ability to feed them

The numbers are now published from the Statistics Canada Census of 2011.  Though most of it may seem like dry reading to some, there is a tremendous amount of information presented there, and well worth your time to check it out.

If you take the time to do a little research in areas such as population growth and age, residential growth, and so on; it can prove to be quite interesting.  In fact, a little research we did here at the Star/Journal last week with the 2011 statistics on farming in Canada has scared us all the way into the kitchen.

I say “kitchen” because that’s where we store and prepare our food, and if the latest statistics are any indication, we might find the cupboards a little bare in future years when it comes to food that has been produced in Canada.  Then again we might find them very bare if other countries are losing their farmers the way we seem to be doing with ours.

In 2011 Canada had 205,730 farms, a decrease of 23,643 farms, or 10.3 per cent since 2006.  That’s just in five years.  If this trend continues we will have lost another 10.3 per cent by 2016.  That’s over 20 per cent lost in only 10 years.

However, the population of Canada has increased by 5.9 per cent between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, compared with a 5.4 per cent increase during the previous five-year period. Canada’s population increased at a faster rate than the population of any other member of the G8 group of industrialized nations between 2006 and 2011. This was also the case between 2001 and 2006.

We think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the numbers show Canada is continuously gaining more people, while we are losing our ability to feed them.

Farming in B.C. shows 19,759 farms, a decrease of 0.4 per cent since 2006.  The total land of those B.C. farms is 6,452,967 acres, down 7.9 per cent since 2006.  Of note, is the fact that B.C. had the second smallest decrease in the number of farms across the country, aside from Nova Scotia which showed a slight increase.  The great food producing provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan are shocking, showing decreases of 16.7 per cent and 16.6 per cent respectively.

For the first time, operators of farms in the age group of 55 and over represented the largest share of total operators at 48.3 per cent, compared to 40.7 per cent in 2006, and 32.1 per cent in 1991.

This information adds more concern to future food production in Canada; it shows our farmers are getting older, and when they retire the family’s younger members are not carrying on through succession.  Young people are leaving the farms for lower hours and larger salaries.  Frequently prime farm land is hotly pursued and purchased by developers who do not have food production on their agenda.  As we lose the farms and the people who work them, so will we also lose our ability to produce sufficient food for our own means.  The only option that will be available to us (unless we want to starve), is to bring what we eat in from other countries; that’s if they have any to spare, and we can afford to buy.

If we continue to follow what the statistics are showing us we will be going down an extremely dangerous path of no return.   Once we lose the ability to feed ourselves we will lose our independence and our sustainable future.

Sustainable food production might not interest you today, but it surely will interest your children’s children when there’s nothing to eat in the kitchen. Keeping Canada’s kitchen fully stocked should be the goal of every politician in Canada.  Agriculture in this country needs more than a fair shake, it needs a bounty of support from government at all levels and in all jurisdictions.  You can’t eat ore, oil, or condos.