Agriculture on PEI
Prince Edward Island is the smallest province in Canada. The Island has a total land area of 1.4 million acres. Farms represent about 42.5% of total land area (594,324 acres). In 2018, the population of PEI was 153,244, about 8.9% of PEI’s workforce were employed directly in the agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors and 3.60% of the population live on farms, reflecting the rural way of life on PEI. The 2016 Census of Agriculture counted 1,353 census farms primarily engaged in growing crops and raising livestock. These farms range in size from a few to 3,000 acres with an average size of 425.
In 2018, PEI had 86,000 acres of land devoted to potato production (the largest share of Canada’s potato acreage) .This accounts for over 20% of all cropland in PEI. In 2018, Island producers harvested potatoes totaling 22.6 million hundredweight (cwt) of product.
Prince Edward Island potatoes are most often processed into frozen potato products and chips. They are also supplied to the fresh table market in eastern Canada, the United States, and overseas. The total value of international exports of PEI potatoes from 2014 to 2018 ranged from C$288 to C$415 million.
Grains and Oilseeds
In 2018, there were 125 farms on the Island, with major operations including grain, and oilseed production. Corn is also grown for feed with surpluses exported from PEI. Most grains and oilseed farms produce barley, oats, wheat and soybean. In recent times pulses, cover and specialty crops have been farmed. In 2018, PEI had 167,500 acres seeded with barley, oats, wheat and soybean. The off-island sales value of grains and oilseeds totaled at least C$18.3 million in the 2018/19 crop year. The farm cash receipts value for PEI's 2018 barley, oats, wheat and soybean was estimated to be $40.3 million. Prince Edward Island-grown feed grade cereals and soybeans are fed to livestock on the Island and elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. Markets also exist for milling wheat, soybean oil, meal extraction and for human consumption.
Prince Edward Island produces a diverse range of fruits, mainly: blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, haskap and apples. In 2018, the total area of land devoted to blueberry production was 13,349 acres, which represents about 95% of the total land area devoted for fruit production on the Island. Rising interest in fruits, such as grape, has resulted in new developments for this crop. In 2016, 55 acres of land in PEI were devoted to grape production, representing over a 50% increase relative to 2011. PEI has also recently seen significant development of the apple industry, growing from 150 acres in 2014 to over 500 acres in 2019. New orchards are being planted at high densities on trellis systems.
PEI also has an active honeybee industry. In 2018, this industry supplied approximately 4,450 colonies for pollination services to the Island’s fruit crops.
A diverse range of greenhouse and field vegetables are produced in PEI. These include: carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, lettuce, peppers and other fine herbs. Carrots are the largest field vegetable, in terms of area planted and total production. In 2018, the total land area devoted for carrot plantation was 795 acres, and the total production was just over 14,490 tons.
Vegetables are an important cash crop for many Island farmers. They are available as fresh and processed farm products for consumers in Atlantic Canada. A core group of diversified growers produce a significant percentage of the fresh market vegetable acreage.
Organic production continues to expand across Prince Edward Island. In 2019, there are 47 producers registered in the province under the PEI certified Organic Producer Cooperative (with a total organic acreage of 10,000). PEI organic producers produce potatoes, soybeans, grains, vegetables, hemp, blueberries, herbs, forages strawberries and raise livestock. Farmers may label their products as “Certified Organic” when they are produced according to Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) policy and audited by a third-party certifying body.
Beef and dairy
The beef industry is comprised of two main sectors: cow-calf operations (where calves are raised to the feeder stage) and beef feedlots (that purchase the feeders to finish for market). Beef production is a major part of the agriculture industry, it occurs on 35% of PEI farms.
In 2018, the total number of cattle in PEI was 61,000 head (of those, 13,700 were dairy cows). Dairy production in PEI is highly specialized and mechanized. Rigorous inspection programs cover every phase of production, from the health of the cow through to the finished product. There are nine dairy processing plants in the province, producers on PEI hold 1.6% of total Canadian Quota. In 2018, the number of farms with milk shipments in PEI was 161 and the annual milk production exceeded 120.9 million liters.
The 2016 Census of Agriculture reported 13 hog and pig farms on PEI, the number of hogs on these farms was 36,200 head. Hog farming on PEI is highly mechanized and meets biosecurity standards. PEI benefits from its isolation from other swine producing regions and has specific swine importation regulations which enables our ability to prevent disease introductions and improved herd health.
Poultry production on PEI consists mainly of chicken and eggs. In 2018, PEI had 8 registered chicken producers, seven egg producers and two egg grading stations. PEI produced 3.79 million dozen eggs worth over $5.8 million.
Poultry production is part of several value-added industries including boneless and bone-in breast, ground, burgers, sausages and meatballs.
For more information about the agriculture industry on PEI, contact
Agriculture Information Desk:
5th Floor Jones Building, 11 Kent Street
tel: (902) 368-4880 or toll free 1-866-PEI-FARM (734-3276)