IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

A Historical Review of Changes in Farm Size in Canada


  • Chen, Hongyu
  • Weersink, Alfons
  • Beaulieu, Martin
  • Lee, Yu Na
  • Nagelschmitz, Katrin


The structure of Canadian agriculture sector has changed significantly. There are fewer farms and farmers but the average farm size for those remaining has increased. The extent of the change varies by region and commodity. For example, average farm size has grown more in Saskatchewan than Ontario and the rate of growth is higher for hog farms than for other livestock farms. The growth in the average farm size is driven by an increase in the absolute number of large farms but the growing share of small farms tempers the extent of the increase in average farm size. Regardless of sector, the number of mid-sized farms that dominated production a generation ago has declined significantly. The hollowing out of the middle has resulted in a movement away from a bell-shaped distribution for farm size to a more uniform distribution. Those in the largest size categories consequently represent a growing percentage of total farm sales. In addition to size, which has been the focus of this review, farm structure can also be assessed in terms of by attributes such as specialization, focus, contracts, ownership structure, and markets. These attributes have also changed resulting in a sector with a heterogeneous group of participants. The variation makes it difficult to assess the need for policy action and what should be the focus of any interventions. The growing heterogeneity also suggests that there are different drivers for entry and exit within the sector and that understanding those drivers will help explain the underlying structural changes in agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Hongyu & Weersink, Alfons & Beaulieu, Martin & Lee, Yu Na & Nagelschmitz, Katrin, 2019. "A Historical Review of Changes in Farm Size in Canada," Working Papers 283563, University of Guelph, Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uguiwp:283563
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.283563

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Sæbø, Gunnar & Lund, Pia Blindheim, 2019. "Children’s right to smoke-free air: Public support in Norway for banning smoking in vehicles with children present," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 123(5), pages 492-498.

    More about this item


    Agricultural and Food Policy; Labor and Human Capital;

    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:uguiwp:283563. 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: . 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.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

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

    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.