Forever young? The crisis of generational renewal on Canada's farms

  • Darrin Qualman Independent researcher and writer
  • A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi Trent University
  • Annette Aurélie Desmarais University of Manitoba
  • Sharada Srinivasan University of Guelph
Keywords: Agriculture in Canada, farm policy, young farmers


There are fewer and fewer young people actively farming in Canada.  Farmers under the age of 35 are leaving farming at twice the rate of the general farm population. As a result, Canada faces a crisis of generational renewal on its farms. This article explores the factors that mitigate against young people taking up farming. Using an analytical framework in part derived from the work of Henry Bernstein and applied to Statistics Canada data, the article demonstrates that there is an ongoing income crisis, a growing problem of farmland accessibility and costs associated with farm machinery, unrestrained increases in the power and profit-share of agribusiness transnationals, and a retreat of governments from public-interest regulation. In doing so, the article provides an evidence-based analysis of the structural factors and forces driving Canada's crisis of generational renewal on its farms.