Old MacDonald Isn't the Only Old Farmer

Old MacDonald had a farm but apparently it is more common than expected.  Along with Old Man Smith, and Old Joe there are many seniors still farming in Canada.  With only 8.2% of the operators being younger than 35, the farmer pool over the age of 55 dwarfs its younger counterparts.

Many times the lack of young people on the farm is blamed on the younger generation for not wanting to come back to the farm.  People saying that the younger generation thinks that they have better options in the city or in the oilfield or the car plant.

One has to think that maybe its the poor succession plans by the older farmers that have forced the younger generation to not return to the farm.  Are we just reaping now what we have been sowing for the past twenty years?  Is there a lack of young farmers because the older farmers won’t retire to allow the under 35 year olds to take over the farm?

Has the commodity boom made the issue even worse by encouraging elderly farmers to stay involved in the farm longer as farming profit have risen over the past 5 years. Or has the land price boom made it impossible for the younger generation to get involved?

As found in a Globe and Mail story some of the highlights from StatsCan were:

As of last year, nearly half – or 48.3 per cent – of farm operators were 55 or older, compared to 40.7 per cent in 2006.

The total number of farmers is declining rapidly. As of last year, there were 294,000 operators – a 10.1-per-cent slide since 2006, a drop that’s occurred in line with the decreasing number of farms. Of the total, 73 per cent of farmers are male and 27 per cent female.

Just 8.2 per cent of operators were younger than 35 as of last year.

So what are the real impacts on the industry?  Can we expect these numbers to eventually turn around?  Do you worry that  half the farmers in Canada are over the age of 55?  Is 55 the new 25 in agriculture?

Its not the 55 year olds that are the problem, its the 70 plus age bracket that is screwing these numbers up.

In the song, Old MacDonald still has his farm and he is still farming in every kindergarten class across Canada.  Apparently just like others from his generation.


3 thoughts on “Old MacDonald Isn’t the Only Old Farmer

  1. This issue is really impacting North American agriculture. The big question is what is going to turn it around before we have 10 farmers across the country just liek we have 2 packers and only 5 major grain companies.

  2. In the organic capital of the United States, farmers are becoming younger and younger. In the midst of San Diego, California, a younger generation has stepped forward to take on the role that usually left us with visions of bib overalls and old-time tractors. And, believe it or not, there is a lot of green to be made with greens.

  3. I personally would like to go back and farm at some point in my life, but the big issue for myself was going to school and creating debt for myself that i wouldn’t be able to pay off at home on the farm. I think that is were the issue lies, just like alot of my friends there parent’s still run the farm and they aren’t ready to give up yet, but again there isn’t much planning as to what is going to happen in the future. Cropping is so unstable, and it would be nice to get into a quota commodity, but who has the money for that

    I enjoy farming but at the end of the day i also like to have some money and as i t sits right now i can make more working off the farm, then doing more work on the farm

    That being said i do still work int eh agriculture industry and there is nowhwer i’d rather be

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