Census of Agriculture: Environmental Geography Aggregations of Census Farm Units

Detailed information for all Census years since 1971




Every 5 years

Record number:


These data sets are developed for the purpose of longitudinal analysis of the Census of Agriculture for both Soil Landscapes of Canada and Drainage Area (Watershed) spatial frameworks.

Data release - These data are released by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (National Land and Water Information Service) and by GeoConnections (Discovery Portal).


Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in collaboration with Statistics Canada, has developed an "area-weighting" process for re-allocating (or apportioning) Census of Agriculture (see record number 3438) data from census polygon based geographies (Dissemination Areas/Enumeration Areas) to other "target" polygon-based geographies: specifically, Soil Landscapes of Canada and Drainage Area (Watershed) spatial frameworks.

These data sets are compiled for research and reporting purposes to allow the integration of farming activity data with bio-physical environmental geographic units. This integration improves the capacity to conduct environmental modeling, environment and resource accounting, and ultimately government policy making.

Reference period: All Census years since 1971


  • Agriculture and food (formerly Agriculture)
  • Environment
  • Natural resources

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The target population for the Census of Agriculture is all 'census' farms in Canada. In 2016, a census farm was defined as an agricultural operation that produces at least one of the following products intended for sale: crops (hay, field crops, tree fruits or nuts, berries or grapes, vegetables, seed); livestock (cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, game animals, other livestock); poultry (hens, chickens, turkeys, chicks, game birds, other poultry); animal products (milk or cream, eggs, wool, furs, meat); or other agricultural products (Christmas trees, greenhouse or nursery products, mushrooms, sod, honey, maple syrup products).

The observed population starts with establishments on Statistics Canada's Business Register that responded to the 2016 Census of Agriculture or had reported to a recent Statistics Canada agriculture survey and confirmed agricultural activity. In addition, establishments that have indicators of agricultural activity in their tax remittances or have reported a main business activity of agriculture to the Canada Revenue Agency are also eligible for the Census. However due to operational and budgetary constraints, only those establishments with strong indicators were included. During collection, the new potential farms identified through the Census of Population questionnaire were also added to the observed population.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


This methodology does not apply.

Data sources

Data are collected from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

The data come from the Census of Agriculture.

Error detection

This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.


This methodology does not apply.


Geographic aggregation methodology overview:

Data sets are re-allocated by AFFC by performing a geographic overlay of Dissemination Areas (DAs) since 2001, and Enumeration Areas (EAs) in all previous years, with an agricultural lands ecumene, and the target spatial frameworks, either the Soil Landscapes of Canada or the Drainage Area (Watershed) spatial framework. A Geographic Information System (GIS) is used to perform this function.

Land cover and the target spatial framework are intersected and then joined with DAs/EAs. An area preserving projected coordinate system is used for geographic processing. The agricultural lands ecumene is used to spatially re-allocate data more accurately, acting as a spatial mask. "Area-Weightings" or re-allocation ratio tables are calculated from the intersection results. Statistics Canada then uses the re-allocation tables from AAFC and apporportions data from the Census geography (DAs/EAs) to the target spatial framework. Re-allocated data are summed up by target spatial units. Where necessary, data cells are suppressed as required by the Statistics Act to protect confidentiality after the re-allocations. All data were subject to a confidentiality process, to prevent the possibility of associating statistical data with any identifiable agricultural operation or individual.

An agricultural lands ecumene was derived from land cover information by AAFC and used to mask or filter the re-allocation of data i.e., to delineate the spatial extent of agricultural lands within a DA/EA and target geography intersection. Circa 1996 land cover information for Canada was compiled by AAFC and incorporated various provincial and federal sources: these are primarily classified Landsat or Airphoto derived sources. Land cover information was generalized to represent agricultural land units within the 100m to 1km resolution range, depending on the data source.

Quality evaluation

See the Census of Agriculture (record number 3438).

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

This data collection represents the sum of all non-confidential cells and hence may not match published provincial and national totals. Some of the differences are due to data suppression for small area geographies. In addition, totals may not equal the sum of their parts due to the use of conversion factors or rounding of fractions to whole numbers.


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