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Manitoba's smaller farms disappearing as consolidation speeds up

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WINNIPEG — Manitoba farmers are consolidating their operations at one of the fastest paces in the country, according to new census numbers released today.

Statistics Canada said that between 2006 and 2011, Manitoba not only posted the biggest decline in the number of farms, at 16.7 per cent, but also the second biggest increase in the size of the average farm, at 13.4 per cent.

It said the tend towards farm consolidation was evident in every province except Nova Scotia, where the number of farms rose by 2.9 per cent since 2006.

Nova Scotia was also one of only two provinces — Newfoundland and Labrador was the other — to see its farms shrink in size during that period.

Manitoba was also one of 10 provinces to see the amount of farmland shrink during the same five-year period. Its 5.5 per cent decline, to just over 18 million acres, was the third biggest after Newfoundland and Labrador’s 13.5 per cent and British Columbia’s 7.9 per cent.

Nationally, Statistics Canada said the number of farms in Canada has dropped by about 23,000, or 10.3 per cent, since 2006. And consolidation led to a nearly seven per cent spike in the size of the average Canadian farm.

The data also suggest Canada’s farmers are re-evaluating the types the type of farming they do. Statistics Canada said the industry used to be evenly split between beef and grain, but the latest numbers show a drop in the number of beef farmers and a spike in the number of grain operations.

It said grain and oilseed operations now account for 30 per cent of all Canadian farms, compared with 26.9 per cent in 2006. The number of beef farms fell to 18.2 per cent from 26.3 per cent.

— with files by Canadian Press

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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