TORONTO — Despite current challenges, two thirds of Canadian farmers are feeling cautiously optimistic about the future, according to an Ipsos Canada poll commissioned by RBC.
The RBC Agriculture Poll involved telephone interviews with 150 farm owner/operators across the country between Dec. 10, 2021 and Jan. 6, 2022. Participating producers had annual revenues of at least $1 million.
When asked about their priorities for the next year, those surveyed overwhelmingly agreed they intend to:
● Cultivate a strong agricultural network to tap into for advice (85%)
● Recruit skilled workers (81%)
● Build up the farm’s leadership team (77%)
● Invest in technology and data-driven decisions (77%)
● Focus on risk-management planning (73%)
RBC says its survey found farmers today are increasingly focused on technological adoption, as well as sustainability and diversity.
An overwhelming majority (91%) of respondents said they regularly use technology and data to guide decision-making, with a large number intending to accelerate the adoption of on-farm technology. Over the next 12 months, about half anticipate introducing new technology to their operations to support functions like data management (55%), digital field, crop, and inventory management (51%), financial planning and cash flow management (47%), and automation (45%).
The survey also found nearly all participants working to make their farms more sustainable (96%). On the diversity question, 61% of farms had female leadership, while 71% reported making progress on recruiting and promoting a more diverse workforce.
The poll results are considered accurate to within 8 percentage points, plus or minus.
“Having demonstrated their ability to weather significant and often unpredictable disruptions over the past two years, Canadian producers are now turning to the future with an outlook of cautious optimism,” RBC National Director of Agriculture Ryan Riese said. “From risk management and resiliency, to leadership and technological innovation, farmers are increasingly shifting their focus and investments on proactive priorities to strengthen their operations and cultivate growth – not only for the year ahead but for the long-term future of the agriculture sector.”
RBC suggests there are four important considerations that should be top of mind for producers:
1. Making risk management part of everyday decision-making. RBC’s Risk Management Guide can be a handy resource.
2. Increasing adoption of sustainable farming solutions and digital innovations. Take the time to assess current operations, and evaluate whether digital solutions can help streamline critical functions including data management; field, crop, and inventory management; financial planning and cash flow modeling; and automation.
3. Expanding your knowledge with education and training opportunities. Take skills and knowledge to the next level with courses such as the free Foundations in Agriculture Management offered by the University of Guelph, Farm Credit Canada and RBC.
4. Don’t go it alone. Don’t hesitate to turn to a financial advisor, lawyer, mentor, or other trusted members of your professional network for feedback and support.