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Manitoba Farming

The main agricultural area is triangular, and runs along the American border to the south, and 230 miles north along the Saskatchewan border to the west, and then diagonally back to the southeast corner of the province. The northern part of the province is made up of very rugged terrain, enormous pine forests, lakes and rivers, many of which can be reached only by float plane. Agriculture has been one of the most important sources of livelihood in Manitoba since the days of the first pioneers.

Wheat continues to be a most important Manitoba crop, accounting for up to 30% of crop production value, followed by barley and canola (rape). Other major crops are oats, rye, peas, soy beans, and corn, with the province dominating Canadian production of flax seed, sunflowers, and buckwheat. Despite the dominance of grain production, Manitoba agriculture is more diversified than the other prairie provinces, with special crops, horticulture, and livestock, making a significant contribution to total province income. The major grain and oil seed crops are grown throughout the province, while most of the special crops are concentrated in the area bounded by the Red River Valley, Portage La Prairie, Brandon, and the American border. However, even though grain farms predominate, the agricultural industry also has a large livestock nucleus. Beef cattle are mainly raised in the western part of the province and Interlake regions, while most dairy farms are concentrated in the area south of Winnipeg. This area also accommodates many intensive hog and poultry units. The overall average farm size is now 1,000 acres per farm, with the total provincial farmed area being just under 19,000,000 acres.

The farmland is set out in square sections 1 mile by 1 mile (640 acres) and can be further subdivided into quarter sections (160 acres). A block of 36 sections makes up a township, with six townships creating a municipality, each of which is administered by a group of councilors.

Farmers in Manitoba pay no federal capital gains tax up to $750,000, cumulative in a lifetime, on the sale of used farmland. Manitoba has no death taxes, inheritance taxes, or capital transfer tax, when left to a spouse or in trust. For income tax, everyone is allowed to earn up to $9,134 free of Manitoba tax, and $11,474 for federal tax. The thresholds thereafter for ‘taxable income’ are: up to $31,000 at 25.8%, $31,001 to $44,701 at 27.75%, $44,702 to $67,000 at 34.75%, $67,000 to $89,401 at 39.4%, $89,402 to $138,586 at 43.4%, and any taxable income over and above $138,587 is charged at 46.4%. Corporation tax is levied at 11% of profit up to $400,000, and 32% for anything over $400,000. We do not have any national insurance contributions to pay, but do have to make contributions to the Canada Pension Plan, to the tune of 4.95% of income to a maximum of $2,544 paid by both employer and employee, with a self-employed person paying the equivalent of employer and employee rates, up to a maximum payment of $5,089.

As Canadian farmers can choose to be taxed on the difference between income and expenses, a wise farmer should check the revenue and expense situation in the latter part of his tax year. They are permitted to defer sales of grain or cattle and delay payment on delivered grain or stock to the following year, and purchase cattle or machinery prior to the end of the year, in order to reduce their tax liability for the current fiscal year.

Canada has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 5% which is similar to and administered almost identically to Value Added Tax (VAT). In addition, Manitoba has an 8% provincial sales tax, which unfortunately is not refundable.

Farm land and buildings in Manitoba are taxed with the amount payable dependent upon the quality of land and the extent of buildings. Money raised from these taxes is used to pay for road building, police and fire control, snow plowing, and school. On the subject of education, children start at the age of five years in kindergarten and continue through grades 1 to 12 up to the age of around 18 years old. Children may leave school at the age of sixteen with parental consent. Children living on a farm will be picked up daily by a school bus and delivered back home in the evening at no charge. Canada has excellent universities, as well as community colleges which cover a wide range of academic subjects and trade training. There are no university grants available, other than scholarships, but students are able to get a loan from a bank, repayable upon commencement of employment. Full course programs costs per year start at about $5,000, plus board and rooming costs, which at the Brandon University campus costs around $8,000 per year for full board. Books are an additional expense, and start at about $1,800 per year.

Community college costs for a trade, technical, or office course can range from $3,000 to $5,000 for tuition and a further $1,000 for books, fees, trips, etc. Manitoba offers a wide and diversified range of farming systems, typically being either grain, beef, dairy, hogs, or poultry, and may well be a combination of all. Potato production in the province is growing rapidly, together with a wide variety of special crops, especially beans, including soya beans.

For livestock operations, a good reliable water supply is a key factor for consideration, usually from a well or borehole, or from a dugout in-ground storage reservoir. Manitoba is renowned for its high quality grain and oilseed crops. Arable units account for the largest percentage of farms in central and western Manitoba with the main crops grown being Red Spring wheat, barley, canola (oilseed rape), and flax. Other crops grown in Manitoba are Durham wheat, peas, edible beans, soya beans, lentils, canary seed, corn, sunflowers, potatoes, oats, and rye, with increasing production of winter wheat for feed and the ethanol market. Most farmers use GPS for better precision and efficiency when applying fertilizer, chemical, and fungicide. Due to the generally low humidity in western Canada, there is much less fungal disease than experienced in western Europe.

Yearly sowing dates vary, but usually start about mid-April and finish in late May/early June, with growth normally fairly rapid. Most herbicide spraying is completed within a month after sowing, with the crops maturing within 90 to 110 days from sowing. Harvest typically begins about mid-August with the majority of the canola and early sown grain crops being swathed to speed up dry down and even ripening of the crop. More and more farmers are now changing to desiccating with glyphosate, subsequently direct cutting their grain and late maturing oilseed crops. The vast majority of the harvested crops are stored in on-farm steel grain bins, some of which will have aeration, but seldom is there a need to artificially heat-dry the crops. Historically, Manitoba farmers can expect a wet harvest every 7 to 10 years (grain at 17-18% moisture).

Average yields are about 3 tonnes per hectare for hard red spring wheat, 6.9 tonnes per hectare for winter wheat, 4.02 tonnes per hectare for barley, and 2.3 tonnes per acre for canola. However, yields will vary somewhat from these figures in different areas of the province due to soil types and annual rainfall amounts. Most of the grain and oilseeds grown in Manitoba are transported overland by rail, with in excess of 65% of the entire crop being exported.

With ‘Royal Assent’ having been given in December 2011 to ‘The Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act’, as of August 1st 2012, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) no longer had a single desk monopoly for the sale of wheat & barley for export. All grains and oilseeds are now on the open market and a grower is free to sell to anyone of their choice. As an organization, the CWB remains in existence but now operates more like a large Co-op, as a competitor in the open market alongside other buyers.

In 2007, the ‘AgriInvest & AgriStability’ programs were implemented to assist agricultural producers in response to income declines. These programs, along with production insurance, now form the core of the business risk management scheme, with the costs being shared by the producer, federal, provincial, and territorial governments under the Agricultural Policy Framework.

This program will integrate stabilization and disaster protection into one, thereby hopefully helping producers safeguard their farming operations and cash flow from any significant drops in income, be it due to weather and/or market fluctuations.

* Conversion Factors - Bushels to Tonnes are as follows: Wheat & Peas price per bushel x 36.744 = price per tonne Barley price per bushel x 45.93 = price per tonne Oats price per bushel x 64.84 = price per tonne Rye & Flax per bushel x 39.368 = price per tonne Canola price per bushel x 44.092 = price per tonne Sunflowers per bushel x 73.737 = price per tonne BUSHEL WEIGHT EQUIVALENT 1 Tonne = 2204.6 Lbs. Bushel of Wheat 60 Lbs. Bushel of Peas & Soybeans 60 Lbs. Bushel of Barley 48 Lbs. Bushel of Flax 56 Lbs. Bushel of Oats 34 Lbs. Bushel of Canola 50 Lbs. Bushel of Rye 56 Lbs. Bushel of Sunflowers 30 Lbs.

MIXED CATTLE FARMING Besides running a cattle herd, many enterprises will have land in crop production as well, with the larger cattle ranches having upwards of 500 head of livestock, as well as capacity for producing winter feed.

Most of the operations are cow calf/suckler units, with the calves weaned at around 8 months of age and then sold onto the commercial feed lots (10,000+ head) in Western Canada or the US.

Suckler cows and calves will graze out on pasture from mid-May onwards until weaning in early October with the cows returning to pasture until snowfall. During winter months, the cattle can be fed and wintered out in the bush, or be kept in high sided corrals with maybe the facility of an open fronted shelter. For mid-winter calving, the cow and calf will remain inside for some 24 to 48 hours then go back outside into a well-strawed corral/yard with maybe an open fronted shelter in case of a storm. Our cold and dry winter conditions are far more healthy for livestock than the damp and wet of the western European climate.

Pasture for summer grazing on Government land is sometimes available at around $90.00 per cow/calf pair, a little less on private land. To establish a feeder enterprise, there are some financially aided schemes available to start up such an operation, with little initial capital outlay require by the farmer.

MANITOBA HOG INFORMATION Hog farms can be found in most parts of the province, with the largest concentration located in the southeast, being mostly farrowing or finishing operations, with some of the larger units encompassing a complete farrow to finish enterprise. In the autumn of 1999, Maple Leaf Foods (an affiliate of Hillsdowne Holdings) opened a new ‘state of the art’ hog slaughter and processing plant in Brandon, Manitoba. When both kill lines are in full operation, they can process 90,000 hogs per week.

Large White, Landrace, and Yorkshire are the more popular breeds, with almost all of the modern units now disease free, some having closed herds.

Canada is the world’s largest pig exporter and the second largest pork exporter with Manitoba pork being renowned as having the highest index in Canada, with a large number of the hogs slaughtered weekly being sold to China & Japan.

MANITOBA SHEEP INFORMATION Sheep farming in Manitoba is considered underutilized, although numbers are on the increase. Canada as a country only has around 1,000,000 breeding sheep, with Canadians on average consuming only two and a half pounds of sheep meat per year.

Manitoba sheep population comprises of around 27,000 breeding ewes, plus lambs, with the main breeding stock being Dorset, Suffolk, some Texe, and Rideau Arcott.

Due to our climatic conditions, the sheep are usually grazed in fenced pastures with supplemental dry feed and wintered in corrals. Diseases and ailments, such as foot rot, are by no means as prevalent as they are in the UK.

Local slaughterhouses will be used for service of the local domestic market, or alternatively, there are local buyers who then transport direct in triple decker trucks to the main retail markets of Montreal and Toronto.


Dairying in Manitoba has been a popular attraction in past years to farmers moving from Western Europe. The total number of dairy farms is still in decline with almost half of units milking 100 cows or less. Provincial average quota size is 104kgs of BF/day which relates to an equivalent of 991,123 litres/annum at the 3.83% butter- fat average. Some of the larger units are milking in excess of 600 cows.

Raw milk is paid for on a multiple component pricing system with Manitoba producers receiving on average close to 76.5 cents per litre net of shipped in quota milk, dependent on component analysis (provincial averages - 3.98% Butterfat; 3.37% Protein; & 5.72% total solids). Milk quality criteria are IBC (individual bacteria count) which must not exceed 121,000, and SCC (somatic cell count) which must not exceed 400,000. Any producer who ships contaminated milk will be held liable for the cost of the complete truck load.

A newly calved cow or heifer in Manitoba currently sells for between $2,000 & $2,500, with the Holstein being the most popular breed in Canada, together with a few herds of Jersey, Ayrshire, and Brown Swiss.

Water is a key necessity of any livestock enterprise and needs to be checked out carefully and not taken for granted. The quality of this ground water may also vary from area to area. With cost of production being around 70%, this leaves a pretty attractive margin for the producer, but as in any country, management plays a very large part in the profitability of any farm enterprise. Most dairy farms are sold as turnkey operations inclusive of quota, with additional quota available for purchase monthly through the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba (Milk Board) for those wishing to expand their enterprise.

The January 2016 Quota Exchange price was $27,700 per kg of daily butterfat quota.


Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) - through the Canadian High Commission in Pretoria, IRCC processes all applications for permanent residents of South Africa.

Self-employed immigrants must have relevant experience which is defined in the regulations as:

Farm management experience - for at least two years in the period beginning five years before the date of application

Points are awarded for relevant experience within the five-year period immediately preceding the date of application.

A checklist found in the Application for Business Class/Section Three: Visa Office - Specific Instructions - Appendix C explains what documents are required to prove that you meet the definition of self-employed.

All the appropriate application forms and immigration information can be accessed on the internet at:

The Province of Manitoba and the Government of Canada share responsibilities regarding business people immigrating to Canada through the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program for Business (MPNP). The program allows Manitoba to recruit, select, and nominate qualified business people from around the world who have the intent and ability to move to Manitoba and establish or purchase a business, which includes ‘Farming’. To qualify for the program, interested applicants must have:

1. minimum verifiable personal net worth of $350,000 Canadian;

2. demonstrated business or farm ownership experience or a minimum of 3 years experience in a senior management role of a successful company.

The Applicant must also be prepared to:

3. conduct a minimum 7-day Exploratory Visit to Manitoba, attend an interview with a Business Immigration Officer at the Program, and be able to provide documented assessment of business opportunities in Manitoba and general knowledge of the province;

4. make an eligible business equity investment in Manitoba of no less than $150,000.

If your application for nomination is approved by the Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program, you will be required to make a $75,000 deposit to the Government of Manitoba, guaranteeing that you will live in Manitoba and start, or purchase, a business or farm in Manitoba within 2 years of obtaining your permanent resident visa and landing in Manitoba. The deposit will be refunded without interest to you when the investment described in your application is made, your business or farm is operational, and you are living in Manitoba. If you are accepted for nomination by Manitoba, you will be provided with a Certificate of Nomination and instructions on how to submit the appropriate documents and federal processing fees to a Canadian Immigration visa office that services your area.

All details can be found on: Provincial Nominee Program.

For application forms:

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