Originally published in Explore Local’s February 2018 Field Notes Newsletter
As reported in the December issue of Field Notes, the 2016 Statistics Canada Census of Agriculture introduced a question about farms selling food directly to consumers. There are 2,062 farms (five per cent of all farms) in Alberta that offer direct food sales. Of those, approximately 96 per cent sell unprocessed food products (fruits, vegetables, meat cuts, poultry, eggs, maple syrup, honey, etc.), and about 10 per cent sell value-added products (jellies, sausages, wine, cheese, etc.).
Most farms (85 per cent) sell their products at a farm gate, stand, kiosk or U-pick operation, while about 20 per cent sell at farmers’ markets and six per cent through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Alberta’s direct marketing farms are scattered throughout the province, with the majority located in Census Division 11 which includes Edmonton, and Census Division 6 which includes Calgary.
All farms reported direct marketing yielded higher than average profitability compared to farms that did not sell directly to consumers. The profitability ratios of some direct marketing farms were further improved if they sold value-added products through farmers’ markets or CSAs.
Farms using direct marketing also showed a higher average of gross farm receipts to farm area at $442 per acre, compared to farms that did not sell directly to consumers with $349 per acre. Direct marketing farms also revealed a higher percentage of female operators (38 per cent) than other farms (31 per cent). Additionally, more women operate direct market farms in Alberta than the national
average (36 per cent).
The data also revealed that young operators (under 35) are more involved in direct market farming in Alberta — nine per cent compared to eight per cent province-wide in all agriculture operations.
However, farms selling organic products through direct marketing in Alberta is lower than the national average, at only 15 per cent compared to 32.6 per cent nation-wide.
Of the 2,062 direct market farms, 35 per cent were new entrants (not reporting in the 2011 Census), with beef cattle farms representing the highest proportion, followed by apiculture and animal combination farming.
One in five direct marketing farms in Alberta is a large farm with sales of $250,000 for more. Among the new entrants, more than two-thirds were small farms with sales less than $50,000, 18 per cent were medium-sized and 10 per cent were large, with sales of $250,000 or more.
For a more detailed synopsis of the Alberta information, contact Mimi Lee: email@example.com, 780-968-3552, or visit Explore Local.