Census of Agriculture

Detailed information for 2021




Every 5 years

Record number:


Statistics Canada conducts the Census of Agriculture to develop a statistical portrait of Canada's farms and its agricultural operators. The data provides users with a comprehensive picture of the major commodities of the agriculture industry while also supplying information on new or less common crops, livestock, finances and use of technology.

Data release - Scheduled for May 11, 2022 (first in a series of releases)


The data collected by the Census of Agriculture are used to calculate estimates. The information is also used by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and provincial governments to develop, administer and evaluate agricultural policies, and by universities and agri-businesses for research and planning.

The census takes place every five years as decreed by the Statistics Act. It provides a historical perspective on Canadian agriculture and on trends in the industry over the years.

Clients: Federal government, provincial and territorial governments, municipal governments; researchers and academics; private industry; business associations and labour organizations; private citizens; public interest groups.

Statistical activity

The Census Test is administered as part of the Integrated Business Statistics Program (IBSP). The IBSP has been designed to integrate approximately 200 separate business surveys into a single master survey program. The IBSP aims at collecting industry and product detail at the provincial level while minimizing overlap between different survey questionnaires. The redesigned business survey questionnaires have a consistent look, structure and content.

The integrated approach makes reporting easier for firms operating in different industries because they can provide similar information for each branch operation. This way they avoid having to respond to questionnaires that differ for each industry in terms of format, wording and even concepts. The combined results produce more coherent and accurate statistics on the economy.


  • Agriculture

Data sources and methodology

Target population


Instrument design

User consultations

A series of workshops were held across Canada in 2017 with users such as federal departments and provincial ministries, agricultural associations, academics and agriculture service providers. Users submitted recommendations for the types of questions they would like to see on the 2021 Census questionnaire which were used to develop the content and design of the census questionnaire.

Evaluating the suggestions

Before going any further, submissions from consultations were evaluated on these key elements:
- Relevance to the agricultural sector;
- Comparability over time;
- Are of national interest;
- Level of geography required;
- Question comprehension and availability of information by farmers;
- Farmer willingness to respond;
- Demand for data;
- Type of questions (e.g., Yes/no versus value);
- Availability of other data sources; and
- Collection frequency.

Questionnaire content and development

Although the questionnaire is updated every census to reflect users' changing requirements as identified through the submission process, certain questions appear on every census. These questions - such as those on farm operators, land area, livestock numbers and crop areas - are considered essential by Statistics Canada and other major users of Census of Agriculture data. Repeating basic questions allows the census to measure change over time, while adding new questions and dropping others allows data to be collected that reflect new technologies and structural changes in the agriculture industry.
The majority of the 2021 questions are identical to questions in the 2016 Census of Agriculture. Changes to the 2021 questionnaire have nonetheless been made to better identify emerging agricultural products and trends. These emerging categories include, for example, hemp, haskaps, kale and ducks. The greenhouse and mushroom questions were also expanded to request areas for additional categories, such as greenhouse tomatoes and specialty mushrooms. Further adjustments were additionally made to content related to renewable energy, technology, direct sales, succession planning, and machinery.

New or changed questions were developed in consultation with industry experts and tested a number of times with farm operators across Canada through one-on-one interviews on their farms and in focus groups. Farm operators selected for testing reflected regional diversity-in types of agriculture, production techniques, farm size, language and age. This testing proved that some questions would not perform well on the census, and that the wording of other questions would require fine-tuning. Respondent burden, content-testing results, user priorities and budgets were all taken into consideration in determining the final content of the 2021 Census of Agriculture questionnaire. The questions were approved by Cabinet in the spring of 2020.

For more information about the 2021 Census of Agriculture consultation process and results, the final publication "2021 Census of Agriculture Content Consultations" can be viewed on the Statistics Canada website at https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/95-635-x/95-635-x2019001-eng.htm.


The metadata will be provided upon release.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2021-05 to 2021-09 (census day: May 11, 2021)

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

In 2021, the Census of Agriculture focuses on electronic questionnaire collection. Invitation letters are delivered to farm operations by Canada Post. Farm operators are asked to complete the 2021 Census of Agriculture online by using the secure access code provided in the invitation letter. If it is determined that a questionnaire has not been received, or if data are missing, a follow-up is conducted by telephone. For a more detailed description of the collection process, please refer to Data collection.

The Census of Agriculture reduces response burden by replacing questionnaire data with administrative data where possible. The age and sex of the farm operators come from what is reported in the Census of Population for each farm operator. The farm operators from the Census of Agriculture were linked to the Census of Population database using a probabilistic linkage method which matches personal and household information provided on both questionnaires (such as name, birthdate, telephone number, etc.). Operators on the Census of Agriculture for which no link was found had their information imputed with that of another Census of Population person having similar characteristics.

The utilization of high quality data sources - such as the Canada Revenue Agency - eliminates the need to ask respondents' questions about the operating arrangement, and detailed revenues and expenses because this information can be obtained from their tax forms. Survey data and other alternative data can also be used to replacepopulate questionnaire data.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.

Quality evaluation

The metadata will be provided upon release.

Disclosure control

The metadata will be provided upon release.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply.

Data accuracy

The metadata will be provided upon release.

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