2016 Census of Agriculture

The 2016 Census of Agriculture introduced a new question on farms selling food directly to consumers for human consumption. The data available on CANSIM indicate 2,062 farms (5.1% of all farms) in Alberta reporting direct sales. Of the 2,062 farms, 96.3% sold unprocessed food products (such as fruits, vegetables, meat cuts, poultry, eggs, maple syrup, honey, etc.), and 9.6% sold value-added products (such as jellies, sausages, wine, cheese, etc.). Most of these farms (85.4%) sold their products at the farm gate, stands, kiosks or U-pick, while 20.6% sold at farmers' markets and 5.8% through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

  • Farms in direct marketing were located throughout Alberta with a mix of both urban and rural areas (Figure 1).
  • Population per farm in direct marketing were relatively higher in Alberta compared to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia (Table 1).
  • One in five direct marketing farms in Alberta is a large size farm with sales of $250,000 or more, 25.7% is in medium size and 54.1% is in small size with sales less than $50,000 (Table 2).
  • Direct marketing farms in Alberta have higher proportion in farm capital between $500,000 and $999,999 (Table 3).
  • Alberta has direct marketing farms in almost all farm types (Table 4). While beef cattle type farms represented the highest proportion of farms in direct marketing (Table 5), higher proportion of fruit and vegetable, poultry and egg, and beekeeping farms are using direct marketing (Table 6).
  • In Alberta, all farms reported direct marketing yielded higher average profitability (0.81) compared to farms did not sell directly to consumers (0.84). Direct marketing farms reported higher average profitability include those in beef cattle type (0.85 vs 0.91), other misc. animal production type (0.85 vs 0.88), dry pea and bean farming type (0.67 vs 0.73), potato farming type (0.72 vs 0.83) and other vegetable (except potato) and melon farm type (0.72 vs 0.86) (Table 7). The profitability ratios of some direct marketing farms were further improved if they were selling value-added products, selling through farmers' markets or Community Supported Agriculture (Table 8).
  • In Alberta, almost 50% of all farm operators reported direct marketing are full time in farming (work 30 hours or more) that is about the same compared to the percentage of all full time farm operators (50.5%) in the province (Table 9).
  • In Alberta, farms reported direct marketing had higher percentage of female operators (37.6%) than the percentage of female operators of all farms (30.8%). Alberta had higher proportion of female farm operators than the national average (35.6%) of farms in direct marketing (Table 10).
  • In Alberta, young operators (age under 35) accounted for 9.1% of all operators reported direct marketing, compared to 8.5% of all operators in the province (Table 11).
  • In Alberta, farms reported direct marketing had a higher average of gross farm receipts to farm area at $442 per acre, compared to farms did not sell directly to consumers at $349 per acre (Table 12).
  • In Alberta, 3.1% of farms reported direct marketing are selling organic products (Table 13). The proportion of farms selling organic products through direct marketing in Alberta (15.1%) is lower than the national average (32.6%) (Table 14).
  • Out of 2,062 farms reported direct marketing in Alberta, 35% were new entrants (those did not report in the Census 2011). Beef cattle type farms represented the highest proportion of new entrants reported direct marketing, followed by apiculture and animal combination farming type (Table 15). Among the new entrants, more than two third were small farms with sales less than $50,000, 17.7% were medium size and 10.1% were large size with sales of $250,000 or more (Table 16).

Table 1

Province Ontario British Columbia Quebec Average Alberta
Population size in 2016 13,448,494 4,648,055 8,164,361 8,753,637 4,067,175
Number of farms in direct sales 7,474 5,667 5,459 6,200 2,062
Population per farm in direct sales 1,799 820 1,496 1,372 1,972

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992) and Census Profile, 2016 Census

Table 2

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
Number of farms Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing
By gross farm receipts 24510 2062 7474 5667 5459
Less than $10,000 8618 507 2432 3144 1381
$10,000 to $24,999 4413 380 1426 959 986
$25,000 to $49,999 2799 228 889 469 775
% of less than $50,000 (small size) 64.6% 54.1% 63.5% 80.7% 57.6%
$50,000 to $99,999 2566 262 793 395 702
$100,000 to $249,999 2785 267 863 346 807
% of $50,000 to $249,999 (medium size) 21.8% 25.7% 22.2% 13.1% 27.6%
$250,000 to $499,999 1534 152 516 155 405
$500,000 to $999,999 966 107 322 102 246
$1,000,000 to $1,999,999 415 61 129 59 94
$2,000,000 and over 414 98 104 38 63
% of 250,000 or more (large size) 13.6% 20.3% 14.3% 6.2% 14.8%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 3

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
Number of farms

By farm capital
Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing
Under $100,000 1216
(5.0%)
64
(3.1%)
317
(4.2%)
221
(3.9%)
330
(6.0%)
$100,000 to $199,999 1504
(6.1%)
42
(2.0%)
312
(4.2%)
205
(3.6%)
541
(9.9%)
$200,000 to $349,999 3134
(12.8%)
112
(5.4%)
845
(11.3%)
550
(9.7%)
955
(17.5%)
$350,000 to $499,999 2988
(12.2%)
197
(9.6%)
960
(12.8%)
593
(10.5%)
757
(13.9%)
$500,000 to $999,999 6895
(28.1%)
608
(29.5%)
2131
(28.5%)
1848
(32.6%)
1413
(25.9%)
$1,000,000 to $1,499,999 3023
(12.3%)
282
(13.7%)
986
(13.2%)
853
(15.1%)
584
(10.7%)
$1,500,000 to $1,999,999 1613
(6.6%)
150
(7.3%)
544
(7.3%)
443
(7.8%)
277
(5.1%)
$2,000,000 to $3,499,999 2126
(8.7%)
238
(11.5%)
725
(9.7%)
521
(9.2%)
357
(6.5%)
$3,500,000 and over 2011
(8.2%)
369
(17.9%)
654
(8.8%)
433
(7.6%)
245
(4.5%)

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 4

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
Number of farms Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing
Dairy cattle and milk production 534 17 208 38 231
Beef cattle ranching and farming 3121 543 1073 501 279
Hog and pig farming 287 18 120 58 51
Chicken egg production 835 53 205 450 42
Broiler and other meat-type chicken production 196 14 67 60 37
Turkey production 44 2 17 18 4
Poultry hatcheries farms 1 0 0 1 0
Combination of poultry and egg production 127 5 50 48 13
Other poultry production farms 50 4 9 12 24
Sheep farming 744 56 231 235 127
Goat farming 264 22 75 78 58
Apiculture 1303 162 414 205 189
Horse and other equine production 990 131 215 508 48
Fur bearing animal and rabbit production 27 0 13 3 10
Animal combination farming 1939 236 732 522 163
Other misc. animal production 278 58 43 58 51
Soybean farming 212 0 143 0 54
Oilseed (except soybean) farming 115 39 4 3 1
Dry pea and bean farming 45 10 2 1 0
Wheat farming 112 18 36 5 7
Corn farming 174 0 116 0 54
Other grain farming 853 140 341 10 107
Potato farming 217 24 55 27 47
Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming 2552 84 883 713 497
Fruit and tree nut farming 2967 76 636 1109 728
Mushroom production 91 2 44 17 18
Other food crops grown under cover 441 22 99 109 153
Nursery and tree production 431 30 111 169 77
Floriculture production 224 22 54 41 71
Tobacco farming 3 0 3 0 0
Hay farming 1456 167 555 245 244
Fruit and vegetable combination farming 590 29 164 239 78
Maple syrup and products production 2072 0 275 3 1716
All other misc. crop farming 1215 78 481 181 280

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 5

Alberta
  All farms DM farms % of DM farms to all farms
Beef cattle ranching and farming 12,282 543 4.4%
Animal combination farming 1,201 236 19.7%
Hay farming 6,094 167 2.7%
Apiculture 343 162 47.2%
Other grain farming 6,211 140 2.3%
Horse and equine production 3,177 131 4.1%
Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming 174 84 48.3%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 6

Alberta
All farms DM farms % of DM farms to all farms
Fruit and vegetable combination farming 39 29 74.4%
Mushroom production 3 2 66.7%
Fruit and tree nut farming 137 76 55.5%
Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming 174 84 48.3%
Apiculture 343 162 47.2%
Combination of poultry and egg production 11 5 45.5%
Other food crops grown under cover 54 22 40.7%
Other poultry production farms 12 4 33.3%
Chicken egg production 173 53 30.6%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 7

Operating expenses to gross farm receipts ratio
  Canada Alberta
NAICS Farms reported direct marketing (DM farms) Non-DM farms Farms reported direct marketing (DM farms) Non-DM farms
All farms 0.85 0.83 0.81 0.85
Dairy cattle and milk production 0.79 0.77 0.80 0.75
Beef cattle ranching and farming 0.88 0.90 0.85 0.91
Hog and pig farming 0.86 0.90 0.98 0.88
Chicken egg production 0.81 0.78 0.90 0.84
Broiler and other meat-type chicken production 0.89 0.84 0.90 0.81
Turkey production 0.83 0.83 X 0.79
Poultry hatcheries farms X 0.88 0.00 0.89
Combination of poultry and egg production 0.93 0.92 1.53 0.76
Other poultry production farms 0.93 0.88 0.86 0.70
Sheep farming 0.99 0.98 1.26 1.12
Goat farming 1.03 0.89 1.03 0.96
Apiculture 0.78 0.75 0.74 0.69
Horse and other equine production 1.15 1.06 1.08 1.05
Fur bearing animal and rabbit production 0.86 0.99 0.00 X
Animal combination farming 0.85 0.83 0.80 0.80
Other misc. animal production 0.86 0.89 0.85 0.88
Soybean farming 0.83 0.81 0.00 0.67
Oilseed (except soybean) farming 0.81 0.80 0.80 0.79
Dry pea and bean farming 0.66 0.71 0.67 0.73
Wheat farming 0.84 0.76 0.76 0.77
Corn farming 0.93 0.81 0.00 1.03
Other grain farming 0.78 0.79 0.79 0.78
Potato farming 0.85 0.82 0.72 0.83
Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming 0.84 0.83 0.72 0.86
Fruit and tree nut farming 0.87 0.83 1.16 1.01
Mushroom production 0.88 0.89 X X
Other food crops grown under cover 0.86 0.87 0.85 0.88
Nursery and tree production 0.91 0.82 0.87 0.77
Floriculture production 0.80 0.84 0.62 0.85
Tobacco farming 0.89 0.89 0.00 0.00
Hay farming 1.02 0.88 0.99 0.85
Fruit and vegetable combination farming 0.93 0.93 1.00 1.51
Maple syrup and products production 0.81 0.72 0.00 0.00
All other misc. crop farming 0.85 0.78 0.77 0.79

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 8

Alberta Operating expenses to gross farm receipts ratio
NAICS – Top seven of highest in number of farms reported direct marketing (DM farms) DM farms reported selling value-added products DM farms reported selling through farmers' market DM farms reported selling through CSA All DM farms Non DM farms
Beef cattle ranching and farming
By gross farm receipts
All farms 0.89 0.95 0.96 0.85 0.91
less than $10,000 2.67 1.54 1.00 1.83 2.14
$10,000 – $49,999 1.56 0.98 1.21 1.34 1.07
$50,000 – $249,999 0.85 0.84 0.72 0.87 0.83
$250,000 – $999,999 0.96 1.00 0.95 0.81 0.80
$1,000,000 and over 0.80 0.00 0.98 0.84 0.94
Animal combination farming
All farms 0.76 0.79 0.82 0.80 0.80
less than $10,000 3.17 2.20 8.27 3.45 2.91
$10,000 – $49,999 0.91 1.07 1.10 1.30 1.26
$50,000 – $249,999 0.91 0.81 0.75 0.96 0.88
$250,000 – $999,999 0.98 0.87 0.80 0.87 0.80
$1,000,000 and over 0.70 0.78 0.00 0.79 0.78
Hay farming
All farms 0.95 0.77 0.82 0.99 0.85
less than $10,000 3.25 3.32 9.79 2.74 2.09
$10,000 – $49,999 2.26 1.00 0.00 1.21 1.00
$50,000 – $249,999 0.74 1.03 0.83 0.84 0.78
$250,000 – $999,999 0.80 0.43 0.75 0.69 0.75
$1,000,000 and over 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.80
Apiculture
All farms 0.66 0.73 0.58 0.74 0.69
less than $10,000 1.47 2.22 0.00 2.22 2.57
$10,000 – $49,999 0.00 1.02 0.91 1.03 1.15
$50,000 – $249,999 0.83 0.74 0.00 0.77 0.66
$250,000 – $999,999 0.97 0.63 0.44 0.69 0.65
$1,000,000 and over 0.58 0.73 0.00 0.75 0.69
Other grain farming
All farms 0.81 0.78 0.71 0.79 0.78
less than $10,000 0.00 0.00 0.00 2.96 2.22
$10,000 – $49,999 0.00 0.74 0.00 1.08 1.02
$50,000 – $249,999 0.93 0.83 0.86 0.85 0.80
$250,000 – $999,999 0.89 0.96 0.89 0.86 0.77
$1,000,000 and over 0.72 0.78 0.61 0.78 0.79
Horse and other equine production
All farms 1.33 1.10 1.31 1.08 1.05
less than $10,000 1.60 1.07 2.38 2.85 3.01
$10,000 – $49,999 1.24 0.98 0.94 1.28 1.33
$50,000 – $249,999 0.00 1.21 0.00 0.94 0.90
$250,000 – $999,999 0.00 0.00 0.00 X 0.93
$1,000,000 and over 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.90
Other vegetable (except potato) and melon farming
All farms 0.65 0.71 0.82 0.72 0.86
less than $10,000 1.15 1.45 0.75 1.67 2.10
$10,000 – $49,999 1.36 1.01 1.37 1.05 1.02
$50,000 – $249,999 0.64 0.73 0.67 0.72 0.79
$250,000 – $999,999 0.62 0.68 0.81 0.68 0.76
$1,000,000 and over X X 0.00 X 0.87

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)
X – Suppressed to meet the confidentiality requirement of the Statistics Act

Table 9

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
Number of operators All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing
Work hours on farm per week  
Less than 30 hours 131435 20300 28585 1695 36665 5935 16450 5785 18265 4145
30 hours or more 140505 16780 29010 1555 33805 5360 9995 3040 23725 3970
% of 30 hours or more 51.7% 45.3% 50.4% 47.8% 48.0% 47.5% 37.8% 34.4% 56.5% 48.9%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 10

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
Number of operators All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing
Gender  
Males 193970 23890 39840 2025 49565 7330 16510 5075 31050 5630
Females 77970 13205 17755 1220 20900 3980 9920 3745 10945 2480
% of females 28.7% 35.6% 30.8% 37.6% 29.7% 35.2% 37.5% 42.5% 26.1% 30.6%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 11

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
Number of operators All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing
Age  
Under 35 years 24845 3380 4915 295 6610 1170 1825 600 4130 740
35 years and over 247085 33705 52690 2960 63855 10125 24605 8210 37865 7375
% of under 35 years 9.1% 9.1% 8.5% 9.1% 9.1% 10.4% 6.9% 6.8% 9.8% 9.1%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 12

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
  Farms reported direct marketing (DM farms) Non-DM farms DM farms Non-DM farms DM farms Non-DM farms DM farms Non-DM farms DM farms Non-DM farms
Ratio of gross farm receipts to farm area ($ per acre) 652 426 442 349 1,292 1,218 606 579 986 1,282

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 13

Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
  All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing All farms Farms reported direct marketing
Number of farms 193492 24510 40638 2062 49600 7474 17528 5667 28919 5459
By organic product for sale 4289 1398 424 64 854 331 550 315 1268 476
Certified 3663 1156 354 56 732 272 449 254 1049 394
Transitional 769 273 97 10 173 76 110 65 242 86
% of farms selling organic products 2.2% 5.7% 1.0% 3.1% 1.7% 4.4% 3.1% 5.6% 4.4% 8.7%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 14

Number of farms Canada Alberta Ontario British Columbia Quebec
Farms reported organic products for sale 4289 424 854 550 1268
Farms reported selling organic products through direct sales 1398 64 331 315 476
% of farms reported selling organic products through direct sales 32.6% 15.1% 38.8% 57.3% 37.5%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 15

Alberta
New entrants reported direct marketing % of new entrants reported direct marketing
Beef cattle ranching and farming 150 20.7%
Apiculture 87 12.0%
Animal combination farming 77 10.6%
Horse and other equine production 66 9.1%
Hay farming 55 7.6%
Other vegetable (except potato) and melon 50 6.9%
Chicken egg production 30 4.1%
Other grain farming 28 3.9%
Sheep farming 24 3.3%
Fruit and tree nut farming 20 2.8%
Other 138 19.0%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)

Table 16

Canada Alberta
New entrants
By gross farm receipts
Farms reported direct marketing Farms reported direct marketing
All farms 9,469 725
Less than $10,000 5,035 299
$10,000 to $24,999 1,799 153
$25,000 to $49,999 874 72
% of less than $50,000 (small size) 81.4% 72.2%
$50,000 to $99,999 676 66
$100,000 to $249,999 532 62
% of $50,000 to $249,999 (medium size) 12.8% 17.7%
$250,000 to $499,999 279 30
$500,000 to $999,999 165 21
$1,000,000 to $1,999,999 53 11
$2,000,000 and over 56 11
% of 250,000 or more (large size) 5.8% 10.1%

Source: Census of Agriculture (CRO0162992)