A new report released today by BMO Bank of Montreal reveals what Canadians feel is a significant impact on farming as a result of youth moving from farms to urban centres.
The survey asked Canadians living in both rural and urban areas what they feel are the challenges as demographics shift for farm operators. The survey revealed the following: • Family farms: 62 per cent saw a negative impact on family farms • Transfer of Knowledge: 61 per cent believe the migration impacts the ability of farmers to transfer knowledge to the next generation • Rural Way of Life: 55 per cent believe the move of young people from rural to urban areas has a negative impact on the ‘rural way of life’
These concerns are expressed by urban dwellers to the same extent as rural dwellers – and sometimes more.
According to migration trends from Statistics Canada, rural areas have experienced a net reduction of young people under the age of 25. Furthermore, based on the Census of Agriculture, farm operators under the age of 35, as a percentage of total farmers, declined from 9.1 per cent in 2006 to 8.2 per cent last year.
“A farm is more than a business; it’s vital to Canada’s economic strength, and this survey highlights the value Canadians place on family farms being able to survive and prosper,” said David Rinneard, National Manager, Agriculture, BMO Bank of Montreal. “BMO has been a major supporter of the agriculture industry and has committed $10 billion in additional credit over the next three years to businesses across Canada.”
“It is easy enough to take agriculture for granted when you have a grocery store full of food, but to sustain this, we need young people in agriculture. A main area of focus for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is intergenerational transfers and building long-term profitability into farming operations,” said CFA President Ron Bonnett. “BMO’s study shows all Canadians are sharing similar concerns and recognize the importance of the sector, and this is encouraging. Broad public support is what’s needed to secure the future of our farms and food.”
Survey results cited are from online interviews with a random sample of 1,011 Canadians 18 years of age and over, conducted by Pollara between May 18 and May 23. A probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/-3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.