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BMO Farm Survey: Ontarians Concerned About Youth Migration from Farms

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

- Average age of Ontario farm operators has risen to over 54 years



TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 26, 2012) - A new report released today by BMO Bank of Montreal shows that 59 per cent of Ontario residents surveyed 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, Ontarians surveyed also responded that youth migration has had significant negative consequences on the:

  • Transfer of knowledge to next generation (60 per cent);
  • Rural economy (59 per cent);
  • Rural way of life (55 percent);
  • Supply of labour (53 per cent); and
  • The agriculture sector (53 per cent).

"A farm is more than a business; it's vital to 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. "BMO has been a major supporter of the agriculture industry and has committed $10 billion in additional credit over the next three years to businesses across Canada."

"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 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," added Mr. Bonnett.

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

Web: www.bmo.com
Twitter: @BMOmedia