A new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows some staggering statistics when it comes to farm size and production.
Concentration Matters: Farmland Inequality on the Prairies by Darrin Qualman, Annette Aurélie Desmarais, André Magnan and Mengistu Wendimu demonstrates that the ownership and control of Canada’s food-producing land is becoming more and more concentrated, with profound impacts for young farmers, food system security, climate change and democracy.
Darrin Qualman says we've seen a very rapid loss of farmers over the last 30 years and the flip side of that is increasing concentration of farmland operation and control.
According to the report, 38 per cent of Saskatchewan’s farmland is operated and controlled by just 8 per cent of farms. In Alberta, 6 per cent of farms operate 40 per cent of that province’s farmland, while Manitoba sees 4 percent of farms operate and control 24 per cent of the land. 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.
Qualman says as compared to 1976, we've seen half the farmers pushed off the land, and when it comes to young producers it's even more dramatic 70% have been pushed off the land in the last 30 years.
"Farms are trying to cover more acres in order to make a family living. The margins used to be much wider you could support a family on a couple of sections, now you might need five or ten times that amount. The margins are small so people are trying to fill in by covering more acres."
The full report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is available here.