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BMO Farm Survey: Albertans Concerned About Youth Migration from Farms

BMO Bank of Montreal set to salute BMO Farm Family Award winners from southern Alberta at the 100th annual Calgary Stampede

- 72 per cent of Albertans say migration of young people from rural to urban areas has negative impact on family farms

- Average age of Alberta farm operators increased to over 54 years



CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - June 26, 2012) - A new report released today by BMO Bank of Montreal shows that 72 per cent of Albertans believe the migration of young people from rural to urban centers has a negative impact on the family farm. This concern is expressed by urban dwellers to the same extent as rural dwellers - and sometimes more.

According to migration trends from Statistics Canada, rural areas have experienced a net reduction of young people under the age of 25. Furthermore, based on the Census of Agriculture, farm operators under the age of 35, as a percentage of total farmers, declined from 9.1 per cent in 2006 to 8.2 per cent last year. In light of this decline, the BMO survey asked Canadians a range of questions on the impact of youth migration from farms to urban centers.

In addition to the negative impact on the family farm, Albertans surveyed also responded that youth migration has had significant negative consequences on the:

  • Supply of labour (66 per cent);
  • Rural way of life (64 per cent);
  • Rural economy (60 per cent); and
  • Agriculture sector (56 per cent).

"For generations, young people have moved to urban centers for various personal reasons, including broadening their life experiences; that is just a fact of life. What this survey highlights is how important it is to have a vibrant, healthy and prosperous agriculture sector to support rural communities. It also reminds us that farming really is a good business that contributes significantly to the broader economy. Agriculture represents 8.1 per cent of Canada's GDP and provides employment for one in eight Canadians directly," said Bill Hogg, Vice-President, Commercial Banking, Alberta/NWT, BMO Bank of Montreal.

"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. A main area of focus for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is intergenerational transfers and building long-term profitability into farming operations," said CFA President Ron Bonnett. "BMO's study shows 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," added Mr. Bonnett.

"A farm is more than a business; it's a way of life, part of the fabric of Alberta and a source of Canada's economic strength. It is why we are proud to be sponsors of the annual BMO Farm Family Awards at the Calgary Stampede," noted Hogg.

For the Calgary Stampede's centennial year, 20 outstanding southern Alberta families will receive BMO Farm Family Awards based on their contribution to the community and their farming expertise. The Awards recognize families who take an innovative approach to growing their business in the province's agriculture industry, and at the same time demonstrate a commitment to rural life and traditional western values.

One of the BMO Farm Family Award winners, Norman Bauer, has been farming with his wife Jean since 1964, following the tradition of his great-grandfather who started the homestead in 1911.

"Rural life has so much to offer," said Mr. Bauer. "It's true that farming and ranching can be impacted by commodity prices, world events and the weather, but I can't think of any other business where you can tend to cattle along the South Saskatchewan River. Not many people have this nice a place to go to work."

Survey results cited are from online interviews with a random sample of 1,011 Canadians 18 years of age and over, conducted by Pollara between May 18 and May 23. A probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of ±3.1per cent, 19 times out of 20.

BMO's roots in the Canadian agricultural sector date back to 1817, when it first began working with farmers. BMO Bank of Montreal provides customized loan and deposit solutions to Canada's agri-business owners, the single largest core commercial sector that the bank serves. For Canadian businesses, including those in the agriculture and agri-food sectors, looking to innovate, enhance productivity, and grow their business, BMO Bank of Montreal recently announced a credit boost of $10 billion over the next three years.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $525 billion as at April 30, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Laurie Grant, Vancouver
604-665-7596
laurie.grant@bmo.com

Paul Cunliffe, Toronto
416-867-7645
paul.cunliffe@bmo.com

Web: www.bmo.com
Twitter: @BMOmedia