|Farms are more than businesses; they are vital to Canada's economic strength.|
Today I noticed a posting on my brokerage site reporting a Bank of Montreal survey that tracked the concerns of Quebecors about rural Francophone youth turning their backs on farming and moving to the city.
60 per cent of Quebec residents surveyed believed the migration of young people from rural to urban centers was having a harmful impact on the family farm. On this both urban dwellers and rural residents were in agreement.
The age of Quebec farm operators has climbed to an average age of 51.4 years (up from 49.3 years in only five years), and operators under age 35 have declined eight percent in the same time period. In light of this, the BMO survey asked a range of questions on the impact of youth migration from farms to urban centres.
In addition to the negative impact on the family farm, Quebecers also said that the youth migration from the farm to the city was having significant negative consequences on the:
- Supply of labour (66 percent)
- Transfer of knowledge to next generation (58 percent)
- Rural economy (58 percent)
- Agriculture sector (56 percent)
"It is easy enough to take agriculture for granted when you have a grocery store full of food, but to sustain this, we need young people in agriculture," said CFA President Ron Bonnett. "BMO's study shows ALL Canadians are sharing similar concerns and recognize the importance of the sector, and this is encouraging. Broad public support is what's needed to secure the future of our farms and food."
"A farm is more than a business; it's vital to Quebec and Canada's economic strength, and this survey highlights the value Canadians place on family farms being able to survive and prosper," said David Rinneard, National Manager, Agriculture, BMO Bank of Montreal.
The family farm is under assault. It is not just the draw of the city that is sucking the youth from the land. Giant corporations are taking over more and more control of food production. It is a tough, competitive world out there on the farm. London, Ontario, must not be too complacent about its position in the middle of Ontario's farm belt. So much has slipped by, and out of, the city over the past few years. Let's not let agriculture take the hit that our industrial base has.