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 the total land area (594,324 acres). In July 2020, the population of PEI was 159,625. 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 acres.
There is a strong historical connection to potato production on PEI. The potato was first introduced to PEI in 1758, and the first export shipment was made in 1827. PEI has long held the distinction of being the largest potato producing province in Canada.
In 2019, PEI had 85,500 acres of land devoted to potato production, harvested potatoes totaled 25.2 million hundredweight (Cwt). PEI potatoes are most often processed into frozen potato products and chips. The vast majority of PEI’s potatoes and potato products are exported to other provinces or abroad. In 2019, international exports of PEI potatoes totaled $406 million.
Grains and Oilseeds
In 2019, PEI had 176,300 acres seeded with barley, oats, wheat, canola, corn and soybean. Off-island sales of grains and oilseeds totaled $18.3 million in the 2018/19 crop year. The value of farm cash receipts for PEI barley, oats, wheat and soybean was estimated to be $43.14 million in 2019. PEI-grown feed-grade cereals and soybeans are primarily fed to livestock on the Island and elsewhere in Atlantic Canada.
Fruit Production and Honeybees
PEI produces a diverse range of fruits, including: blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, grapes and apples. In 2020, the total area devoted to blueberry farming was 12,500 acres. Rising interest in fruits, such as grape, has resulted in new developments for fruit production.
PEI also has an active honeybee industry. In 2019 this industry supplied 4,453 colonies for pollination services to the Island’s fruit crops. The value of natural honey produced by PEI honey producers in 2019 was $524,000.
A diverse range of greenhouse and field vegetables are produced in PEI. These include: carrots, cabbage, cauliflowers, onion, tomatoes and cucumber. In 2019, carrots were the largest field vegetable, in terms of area planted and total production. In 2019, the total land area used for carrot plantation was 819 acres, and the total production was just over 14,300 tons.
Vegetables are an important cash crop for some Island farmers. They are mainly available as fresh 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. There are 47 Certified Organic producers on PEI with approximately 11,700 acres of certified organic farmland. PEI organic farmers produce potatoes, carrots, beets, soybeans, forages, hemp, grains, small fruits, diversified mixed produce (market gardens), beef and a range of value-added products (including animal feed rations, cold-pressed canola oil, fries and hashbrowns, flour, baking mixes, ferments and preserves). Farmers may label their products as “Certified Organic” when they are produced according to Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) organic regime.
Beef and Dairy Production
The beef industry in PEI is comprised of four interconnected sectors: cow-calf, backgrounding, feedlot and processors. In 2019, the beef industry in PEI generated approximately $31 million in farm cash receipts. Cattle are processed in the province at the federally-inspected Atlantic Beef Products facility and also at provincially-inspected abattoirs.
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. As of July 2019, the total number of cattle in PEI was 61,000 head (of those, 13,900 were dairy cows and 6,300 were dairy heifers). In 2019, 166 farms reported milk shipment. Milk sold off-farm totalled 116.6 million litres. The majority of milk in PEI is processed by Amalgamated Dairies Ltd., a producer-owned cooperative.s.
In 2020, there were 19 commercial hog operations on PEI. Hog farming throughout Canada has become very efficient and maintains very high bio-security standards. PEI has one operation that produces breeding stock, which is sold throughout the Maritimes and Eastern Canada. The industry in the province continues to benefit from disease control and high herd health through natural isolation and import regulations.
Poultry production on PEI consists mainly of chickens and eggs. In 2019, PEI had eight registered chicken producers, seven egg producers and two egg-grading stations. In 2019, PEI produced 3.86 million dozen eggs worth $6.25 million, about 57% of those eggs were sold into the table market while the remaining 43% was either exported to Nova Scotia for the table market or sold to Quebec and Ontario for processing.
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)