Report shows 70% drop in young and new farmers across Prairies

The ownership and control of Canada’s food-producing land are becoming more concentrated, according to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The report, Concentration Matters: Farmland Inequity on the Prairiesfocuses on Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. The Prairie provinces make up 70 per cent of the country’s agricultural land.

In Saskatchewan, eight per cent of farms operate and control 38 per cent of the farmland.

In Alberta, six per cent of farms operate 40 per cent of the farmland.

In Manitoba, four per cent of farms operate and control 24 per cent of the farmland.

What are the impacts?

The concentration of farming will have a profound impact on young and new farmers, according to the report.

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“Such concentration makes it much harder for young and new farmers to enter agriculture, with the number of young farmers in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba declining by more than 70 per cent within just one generation.”

“Rural economies, communities, businesses, and services are also affected as there are fewer farm families to patronize local shops and services, while farmers lose their capacity to democratically influence governments and legislation as their voting numbers fall.”

What can be done?

According to the report, a change in policy measures is needed to counter market forces. Otherwise, half of Canadian farm families will be forced off the land in the next one to two generations. Among the report’s recommendations are:

  • Reshape our farm support programs, tax laws and incentives.
  • Impose limits on the area any one entity can own.
  • Restructure Canadian agricultural policy to focus on maintaining a maximum number of farmers.
  • Develop land access programs for young and new farmers.
  • Redirect research away from industrial models toward diversified, local, small-scale, and organic production.

Concentration Matters: Farmland Inequity on the Prairiesis co-authored by Darrin Qualman, Annette Aurélie Desmarais, André Magnan
and Mengistu Wendimu.

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