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Farmer demographics
– who is growing our food?
Images of Old McDonald – the farmer wearing overalls and carrying a pitchfork from the popular children’s song – are what many people think a farmer looks like. The reality is a lot different. Here is who is really growing our food:
• According to the 2016 census, the average age of a Canadian farmer
is 55. Just over half of all Canadian farmers are aged 55 and older, but for the  rst time since 1991, the number of young farmers – those under 35 – has increased.12
• 28.7 per cent of Canadian farmers are female.
• Just over half of all farmers have some form of post-secondary education as of 2011.13
• About 45 per cent of Canada’s farmers also work off-farm to supplement their income.14 Farming is an expensive business with many risk factors, which makes additional sources of stable income an important means to security.
Joan Craig
Courtesy of FFC Saskatchewan
Dwane Morvik
Who is Canada’s typical farmer?
There’s no such thing as a typical Canadian farm or ranch, or farmer or rancher. Canada is a big country with many different types of farms, and each one is unique. What they do have in common is the commitment and dedication needed to care for land and livestock.
In Canada, farming is still about family. Many farms are handed down from generation to generation, and it’s not uncommon to see parents and even grandparents working together with sons, daughters, and grandchildren, on their family farm.
The big difference from previous generations is that today, farms have become bigger, and there are more tools and technologies available to help farmers do their job better. Smartphone apps can, for example, monitor the temperature inside barns to ensure that livestock are comfortable; drones help  nd pest and disease problems in a  eld of crops; and GPS systems can help farmers pinpoint exactly where – and in what amount – fertilizer is needed.
Kathie MacDonald
The Real Dirt on Farming 5

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