At the beginning of May 2016, Canadian farm operators will have the chance to take part in a national dialogue by completing the Census of Agriculture questionnaire.
The Census of Agriculture is the definitive source of community-level data. By drawing on these data, decision makers will know that they are acting in the interests of farmers, farm communities and agricultural operations across Canada.
Farm organizations are heavy users of census data and draw on this information when formulating policy requests, producing communication and outreach work, and conducting market research.
What’s new for the 2016 Census of Agriculture?
Census by Internet: fast and easy
All Canadian farm operators will receive a letter at the beginning of May 2016 with instructions on how to quickly and easily complete the questionnaire online.
The online questionnaire will automatically add totals. As a result, completing the questionnaire online will limit the questions to the ones that apply specifically to an operator’s farm and will reduce the need to call back farm operators in order to clarify answers. On average, farmers should spend 30% less time responding to the 2016 Census of Agriculture than they did responding to the previous census (2011).
Shorter—but still comprehensive—questionnaire
The Census of Agriculture staff consults after every census with farmers, agricultural industry members, and data users for the purpose of assessing data needs.
Statistics Canada has received more than 200 submissions from diverse groups, including federal government departments and agencies, provincial ministries, farming organizations, academics, farm service companies, and consulting firms further to the 2011 Census of Agriculture. Statistics Canada is grateful to the agriculture industry for its ongoing feedback and support.
As a result of these consultations, most of the questions for 2016 are identical to those used in 2011. This continuity is important when it comes to tracking long-term trends in the industry and meeting the ongoing needs of users and stakeholders.
In the 2016 Census, operators are no longer required to provide detailed farm expenses and other information such as place of residence, details on irrigated land, and the source and use of manure.
The questionnaire also includes new questions on the adoption of technologies, direct marketing, succession planning and renewable energy production.
Overall, the 2016 questionnaire has 18 fewer questions than did the 2011 questionnaire.
The content of the 2016 Census of Agriculture was published in the Canada Gazette on June 20, 2015.
In the coming months, the Census of Agriculture Program will begin its communication and outreach work with the farming community. This work includes farm show exhibitions, as well as a media campaign that explains what’s new in the upcoming census and why the census is important.
By law, farmers are required to participate in the Census of Agriculture. By the same law, Statistics Canada is required to protect the information provided in Census of Agriculture questionnaires. Privacy is a fundamental component of the census.
At the beginning of May, complete your questionnaire and tell your story as part of Canada’s farming community!
For more information, please visit the Statistics Canada website.
Note from TCOG’s editors: Be on the lookout for additional information about the 2016 Census of Agriculture that will appear in the spring issue of TCOG. (Publish date: February 28.)