(NC) For the first time in history, the largest percentage of farm operators in Canada is aged 55 and older. There are also fewer farms today than a decade ago, but the average farm is bigger than it’s ever been. The face of modern farming is changing, which is expected to open up new career opportunities in agriculture.

Regardless of the size, 98 percent of Canadian farms today are still family owned and operated. While the average age of the farmer is increasing, there are still many multi-generational operations with adult children working alongside their parents. In fact, the 2011 census shows that multi-generational farms tend to have higher gross incomes.

According to Charles Stevens, who owns and operates Wilmot Orchards in Ontario, this presents a great opportunity for the exchange of knowledge. The older generation can pass their experience down to their children and the younger generation can bring fresh ideas and innovative perspectives.

Stevens says that agriculture has been a rewarding career and if he had to do it all over again he wouldn’t change a thing. “Agriculture offers a multi-functional, secure career path with almost endless job opportunities. It is extremely hard work, but I can easily say I am lucky to work with the most genuine people I’ve ever met. Farming is truly a rewarding and unique way of life,” he says.

The business of farming is more sophisticated than it has ever been. Among the new generation of farmers there’s a trend toward higher levels of education. Farmers need to make complex decisions that will ensure both the economic and environmental sustainability of their farms, which is why many are choosing to get post-secondary degrees and diplomas in various fields of study.