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Census release highlights lack of succession planning in agriculture

PETERBOROUGH, ON – Despite the rising age of Canadian farmers, the 2016 Census of Agriculture confirms few farms are prepared to properly transition their farm to the next generation.

“Today’s report is not surprising, it confirms what we are already hearing,” says Darrell Wade, founder of Farm Life Financial Planning Group (Farm Life). “Farmers across Ontario are having significant challenges getting to the table to plan for succession.”

The 2016 Census of Agriculture, released today on May 10, states only 8.4% of farms nationally reported having a written succession plan. Among the sole proprietorships, 4.9% had a written succession plan, compared with 16.3% of family and non-family corporations.

“We understand the fears families have about having these difficult conversations but not having them leads to many larger and greater problems in the future,” Wade said. “Properly planning for a successful transition is the best legacy that can be left to both your family and your farm.”

The Census of Agriculture continued to show trends of decreasing numbers of farms but farms growing in size. And while it showed an aging workforce, it also showcased for the first time growth in young operators on the farm.

“More and more young people are wanting to be involved in farming, solidifying the need for a proper plan so they are able to attain farm ownership one day,” says Wade. “It’s encouraging to see the growing interest in agriculture to today’s farming generation but it’s our job to make sure there they have a sustainable operation to work from.”

Statistical (national) highlights from the release include:

  • There were 193,492 farms in 2016, down 5.9% from the previous census in 2011. This however was the lowest rate of decline in 20 years.

  • The average area per farm increased from 779 acres in 2011 to an average 820 acres in 2016.

  • The number of farm operators decreased from 293, 925 in 2011 to 271,935.

  • Farm operators under 35 years old grew from 24,120 in 2011 to 24,850 in 2016, marking the first increase since 1991.

  • The fastest growing group of farm operators is 55 years and older, with 55 being the average age.

  • Women account for an increasing number of operators rising from 27.5% in 2011 to 28.7% in 2016.

The full report can be found at

Farm Life Financial Planning Group was founded in 2015 by Darrell Wade with a mission to ensure Canadian farmers are able to keep farming. It works with families to build continuity of the farm through succession, transition and tax efficient estate plans. Farm Life Financial currently has representatives across the province and is headquartered in Peterborough, Ontario.


Contact Information: Devon Girard 705-775-8000 or

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