The changing face of agriculture

By Alice McFarlane
December 19, 2018 - 5:00pm

Data from the 2016 Census of Agriculture looked at the socioeconomic profile of who is running Canada's farms.

Statistics Canada analyst Matthew Shumsky said there has been a significant increase in the percentage of female farmers.

"Over the last 20 years, from 1996 to 2016, the percentage of female farm operators increased three per cent. Also, the percentage of farms operated exclusively by females nearly doubled over that same time," Shumsky said.

These women are also putting more emphasis on education with an increase in the number of women attending post-secondary schools.

"In 2016, this group was nearly twice as likely as they were 20 years earlier to report having earned a university level education as their highest level of educational attainment," Shumsky said.

The data is not a surprise to Kim Keller who farms in the Gronlid district with her parents and brother.

"I think there are two things you can look at. One, there's more women who are actually identifying as farm operators. But there's also an influx of women coming back to the farm, like myself, who now see it as viable option that they can come back and farm with their family," Keller said.

Keller attended the University of Saskatchewan where she obtained an arts degree with honours majoring in native studies.

"It's not something we thought we could have done right out of high school, so we went away, got an education, probably got other jobs and in the last five to seven years have realized it is possible for us to come back," Keller said. "We are farm operators but then we also have off farm income to support and supplement and make sure that we're able to continue to farm as well as grow our part on the farm."

Keller's off farm employment includes working with agriculture technology and software that helps farmers in their day-to-day operations.

Keller is the executive director of the Do More Agriculture Foundation. She is also one of the founding members of Women in Agriculture.


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On Twitter: @AliceMcF

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