exception of the St. Lawrence River Valley, Prince Edward
Island has the oldest continuous history of agriculture
in the country. As early as the 1720s, the Acadian
settlers were engaged in exporting agricultural products
in support of the French Fortress of Louisbourg on
present-day Cape Breton Island. From 1790 until 1830,
agricultural activity began to develop as settlers
cleared away the Islands forest cover, thereby
effecting a substantial change to the Islands
landscape. The early part of the nineteenth century was a
period of great hardship. The transformation of forest to
farm, crude implements, the difficulty of procuring seed
and getting produce to market, poor quality livestock,
and the inexperience of farmers made early agricultural
activity very difficult.
From the mid-1800s until the turn of the century, Prince Edward Island agriculture became largely self-sufficient thanks to the persistent efforts of the numerous local agricultural societies that were created in rural communities throughout the province. Since the Second World War, the most significant changes in the industry have been brought about by mechanization, farm-size expansion and the establishment of food processing plants to create value-added agricultural products.
While agriculture remains a vital part of the Island economy and integral to our heritage and way of life, the number of farms on the Island has decreased steadily over the past century. In 1900, there were approximately 20,000 farms on the Island, while almost a century later, in 1997, there were only 2,217. Though many small Island farms still exist, a large proportion of agricultural activity in the province is undertaken by large commercial operations.
Potatoes are Prince Edward Islands most famous and most valuable crop. Over 110,000 acres were devoted to potato production in 1998, with tablestock and seed potatoes exported to four continents.
Fruit and Vegetables
Farmers engaged in vegetable production are performing the most diversified and labour-intensive types of agricultural production.
Lower profile agricultural commodities, cereal, protein, and forage crops, constitute the very foundation of livestock production on the Island.
Beef and Dairy
Increasingly, cattle breeding and beef and dairy production have become specialized agricultural activities in Prince Edward Island. And our farmers have proven their products to be of world-class calibre.
For many years, Island hog producers have been known throughout the country for the excellent quality of their pork and breeding stock.
Poultry and Eggs
Long an integral part of household production on family farms, poultry and egg production for commercial markets benefited from strong beginnings thanks to farmer co-operation.
There is more to Prince Edward Island agriculture than spuds and heifers! Recent years have seen the emergence of new agricultural products such as hemp, ginseng, and emus.