IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Demand and Supply Analysis of Farm, Farmer and Farm Family Data


  • Poon, Kenneth
  • Weersink, Alfons
  • Deaton, Brady J., Jr.


Canadian governments collect data on the agricultural sector through a variety of surveys, income tax filings, and support program applications. The definition of a census farm provides the benchmark to estimate aggregate commodity supply which is most critical to analyze and forecast commodity prices. Prices are also collected and made available, but there is growing concern about the lack of price data for contracted commodities. The farm and rural population characteristics are also adequately portrayed through the linkage of the Census of Agriculture with the long-form Census of Population (up to 2006) and the voluntary National Household Survey in 2011. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s typology captures different size and motivation for units of production, but broad inferences on the sector based on this characterization must recognize that it is only for unincorporated farms. These farms tend to be smaller and represent a shrinking percentage of the sector. In contrast, incorporated farms are becoming common place and produce the majority of farm cash receipts. The growing complexity within agricultural production units extends to the relationships with these units back to input suppliers and forward to processors. These components of the supply chain are becoming intricately linked over time and these linkages cannot be presently described with the publically available data on the sector. As the heterogeneity in the agricultural sector grows, the data and information demanded for various analytical and administrative purposes grows along with it. The demands for data to determine the need, design, and evaluation of public policy are simultaneously narrower and greater than the broad requirements by private and public users for aggregate production numbers. Farm support programs are meant as a safety net for viable farms in times of unexpected need so the first step involves assessing financial health and identify farms that are “normally competitive” from the ones that are never competitive. Information from an income statement and balance sheet are required along with input and output levels by farm units over time. No single data set supplies all the data necessary to determine need and effect of farm support programs. Performance measures based on tax data are limited to production margin so this data, while detailed in many respects, lacks information on assets/liabilities, inputs /outputs, and demographics. The latter may become important if future support programs are to target “active” farms. The proposal to consider the individuals behind a unit of production in the determination of support eligibility would drive a large gap between data demands and the current supply of publically provided data. The potential change reflects the growing heterogeneity of the agricultural sector. The initial focus on the unit of production was appropriate for all users of the data. The unit of production was the farm and it was generally operated by a single farmer and it supported a single farm family. This no longer generally applies. This growing heterogeneity forces the objectives of agricultural policy to be clearly specified, i.e. efficiency vs. equity, but the political rhetoric has yet to catch up with the changes as the terms farm, farmer, and farm family are interchanged as if they were still one. The growing distinction between them may result in changes in the nature of the data collected on the sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Poon, Kenneth & Weersink, Alfons & Deaton, Brady J., Jr., 2011. "Demand and Supply Analysis of Farm, Farmer and Farm Family Data," Working Papers 114094, Structure and Performance of Agriculture and Agri-products Industry (SPAA).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:spaawp:114094

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Babcock, Bruce A., 1990. "Value of Weather Information in Market Equilibrium (The)," Staff General Research Papers Archive 10592, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    2. Wolf, Steven & Just, David & Zilberman, David, 2001. "Between data and decisions: the organization of agricultural economic information systems," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 121-141, January.
    3. Suzanne Thornsbury & Kathy Davis & Tara Minton, 2003. "Adding Value to Agricultural Data: A Golden Opportunity," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 25(2), pages 550-568.
    4. Kislev, Yoav & Peterson, Willis, 1982. "Prices, Technology, and Farm Size," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(3), pages 578-595, June.
    5. M. Timko & R. M. A. Loyns, 1989. "Market Information Needs for Prairie Farmers," Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics/Revue canadienne d'agroeconomie, Canadian Agricultural Economics Society/Societe canadienne d'agroeconomie, vol. 37(4), pages 609-627, December.
    6. Victoria Salin & Amy P. Thurow & Katherine R. Smith & Nicole Elmer, 1998. "Exploring the Market for Agricultural Economics Information: Views of Private Sector Analysts," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 20(1), pages 114-124.
    7. David R. Just & Steven A. Wolf & David Zilberman, 2006. "Effect of information formats on information services: analysis of four selected agricultural commodities in the USA," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(3), pages 289-301, November.
    8. David R. Just & Steven A. Wolf & Steve Wu & David Zilberman, 2002. "Consumption of Economic Information in Agriculture," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(1), pages 39-52.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Agricultural and Food Policy; Community/Rural/Urban Development;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ags:spaawp:114094. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (AgEcon Search). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.