What does the future hold for Canadian farms?  

With our farmers aging, word that 66% of Canadian producers do not have a succession plan in place, leaving the future of farmland in doubt is worrisome. 

Why is it so hard to find succession in agriculture – whether within or outside family? 

Is it because it’s too complicated? Many resources exist for farmers to plan succession. 

Is it because being a farmer is not seen as being an entrepreneur? Running a farm is most definitely running a business. 

Is it because #CdnAg balance sheet is too daunting? Yes, new owners often have to take on significant debt, but they also hold great assets if they do it right. 

Is it because it’s too much work? It’s definitely not 40-hour-a-week, Monday to Friday job. 

Is it because it’s too slow to go from sow to grow to harvest in a world of instant gratification? Perhaps that’s part of it…for some influencer-types. But there is also an immense amount of reward in bringing product to market. 

Is it because of small farm income? As operating costs remain stubbornly high, some may contemplate working off the farm to make ends meet.  

Is it because of the rising cost of farmland? If you want to get bigger, you need land. 

Is it because it’s in the country? When more Canadians have wanted to live in the cities, although the pandemic may have changed that trendline somewhat. 

Is it because finding labour is difficult? All the work ends up on the owner’s shoulders. 

Is it because there is so little recognition? There is always criticism and prejudices toward farmer. 

Is it because agriculture schools haven’t adapted to younger generations? Or they’re educating people to surround and support farmers not be farmers? Possibly. 

There are as many reasons as there are people for the next generation to consider turning its back on an agriculture career. 

I have heard the questions above and the discussions they prompt among young people and farmers.  

I have also witnessed aging farmers being so controlling that they discourage their relatives or potential successors to join in. Some were too cautious. Others too adventurous. Both to the point of being repellant.  

There is no perfect way to attract succession. It, too, means hard work and requires a good transition plan.  

The proportion of farms in Canada reporting a succession plan increased from 8.4% in 2016 to 12.0% in 2021. As was the case in the previous census, farms classified as oilseed and grain farming accounted for the largest share (44.5%) of farms reporting a succession plan in 2021. 

In Quebec, dairy farming attracts one third of youth going into agriculture. 

Maybe the national and provincial associations of farmers should talk more to their members about succession plans, so that farmers have more to go to then their bank when they want to think and talk about succession.  

Maybe in high school there should be an agriculture option, like professional options, so people who like agriculture could get training and work. Not everybody needs or wants to be boss.  

In our case, we have turned to outside family and foreign workers from Belgium for the succession of the farm. We have three people, two men and one woman, who will ensure the continuity of the business. Two are Canadian and one is from Belgium (working on citizenship). It has been a roller coaster of emotion for my partner since his kids were in and out of the project.  

Immigration will surely be part of answer to the Canadian agriculture, as it has been for us. It’s a good thing we are a country of immigrants! Here in Lac Saint-Jean, we have more and more immigrants and we need them. We need them to work on farms, in restaurants, in grocery stores, in hospitals, in schools…everywhere in fact. 25 years ago, you could not find foreigners here. Now, the more the better.  

If we as Canadians want to remain sovereign in our food production, we need to make sure our agriculture sector is healthy, that people are going to work in that field. We need to ensure there are willing hands to accept the torch once it’s passed. 

To everyone willing to produce and transform Canadian food, thank you. We need even more people just like you. 


A consistent consumer of Canadian products (food, clothing, furniture, etc.), Isabelle Bouchard is a city girl now living in the countryside on a dairy and crop farm in Lac Saint-Jean, Québec.

Self-employed since 2019, she was previously employed by great Canadian companies and the Government of Canada. Consult her LinkedIn profile for details.

Isabelle is excited to participate with friends in this great project. Both Canadian producers and products need the support and love of Canadians to shine and prosper. There are so many people who denigrate our producers and our Canadian products that she feels it is almost a duty to participate in C3FC.