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Maritime provinces lead country in unused farmland: Statistics Canada


New Statistics Canada numbers show a sharp decline in the amount of land being used for farming, especially in the Maritimes.

Farmer Christian Michaud sees it first-hand.

He has been forced to scale back operations at his farm in Bouctouche, N.B.

“We have adjusted that’s for sure. We used to grow 200 acres of vegetables and we are down to 100,” says Michaud, who is the chair of the New Brunswick Agricultural Alliance.

A number of reasons are at play.

The cost of production and the small financial return combined with the stress of the profession doesn’t make farming an attractive venture.

“If you go out in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I., there’s lots of abandoned farmland and that’s a waste, unfortunately,” says food industry expert Sylvain Charlebois.

Stats Canada’s numbers prove it.

Nationwide, there has been a nearly 8 per cent drop in the area used for farming between 2001 and 2021.

The Maritimes are among the biggest losers.

Nova Scotia leads the way with 28.4 per cent less area farmed, New Brunswick is close behind at 28.3 per cent and on P.E.I. there’s 21.8 per cent less land being used for farming.

“We are at a point here in our region that we need, we need a plan to actually make our rural economy much more valuable and right now it’s just not a focus,” Charlebois says.

Increased efficiency in farming also plays a role.

Scientific advancements allow farmers to grow higher-yield crops on less land.

That’s good news as Nova Scotia aims to double its population by 2060.

“Food is got to be grown somewhere and I’d like to see it be grown here or as much as possible,” says Tim Marsh, who is the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

To do that, Michaud would like to see a commitment from government.

"Some true investment from government to make sure that the agriculture industry moves forward,” Michaud says.


This article has been edited to correct spelling in the paragraph, "Scientific advancements allow farmers to grow higher-yield crops on less land." Top Stories

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