Farmers in British Columbia make up 1.3 per cent of the provincial population, according to figures from Statistics Canada.
According to the 2016 Census, 57,970 British Columbians fell into the category of farmer. As such, they accounted for 9.8 per cent of the total farming population in Canada (592,975) — or 1.7 per cent of the total Canadian population.
Most farmers lived in Ontario, which accounted for 27.1 per cent of Canada’s farming population, followed by Quebec (16.1 per cent) and Alberta (20 per cent).
Since Confederation in 1867, the number of agricultural operations in Canada has shrunk, while their acreages and sales have grown. In 1871, Canada had 367,862 farms with an average acreage of 98. In 2016, the number of farms had dropped to 193,492 with an average acreage of 820.
The smaller number of farms have also become more productive. Total Canadian farm sales in 1900 topped $364.9 million or $714 per farm. In 2015, total Canadian farm sales topped $69.4 billion or $358,503 per farm.
Looking more broadly, agriculture and related industries contributed about $111.9 billion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016 — or about 6.7 per cent of the country’s total GDP.
GDP in agriculture and related industries has grown by 11 per cent over the last five years, compared to the Canadian economy which increased by 7.8 per cent. Overall, agriculture and related industries employed 2.3 million people, representing 12.5 per cent of total Canadian employment.