Canadian farms’ gross hits record high in Q1

Farm cash receipts for Canadian farmers totalled a record high of $12.1 billion during the first quarter of 2011, up 8.8 per cent from the year-earlier period, according to Statistics Canada.

This follows a 7.5 per cent decline between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010, the federal statistics agency said in a report Wednesday.

Farm cash receipts, which include crop and livestock revenues plus program payments, increased in every province except Manitoba (down four per cent) and British Columbia (down 2.2 per cent). Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Ontario all recorded double-digit increases in receipts.

Market receipts from the sale of crops and livestock amounted to $11.3 billion, up 8.6 per cent from the first quarter of 2010.

Crop receipts rose 9.7 per cent to $6.4 billion, while livestock receipts were up 7.3 per cent to $5 billion.

The $562 million increase in crop receipts was due primarily to higher prices for most major grains and oilseeds. These more than compensated for reduced marketings.

Crop prices have recently shown signs of strength after declining from the highs reached in 2008. The International Grains Council reported that global carryover grain stocks are set to fall to their lowest level in three years. In addition, estimates for oilseed stocks continued to tighten, fuelled by growing demand from emerging economies and for biofuels.

Canola, corn and wheat (excluding durum) contributed significantly to the increase in receipts, with the weighted average price of each rising more than 30 per cent between the first quarters of 2010 and 2011. Rising dry pea receipts were also a factor, due to both strong prices and increased marketings.

On the other hand, lentil receipts fell as both prices and marketings declined. Producers also had fewer deferred grain receipts to liquidate in the first quarter, due to lower crop receipts last year.

Livestock

On the livestock side, cattle and calf receipts rose 9.5 per cent to $1.6 billion, while hog receipts increased 10.8 per cent to $926 million. Rising prices were again the reason, with weighted average prices up 26.5 per cent for cattle and calves and up 14.6 per cent for hogs, compared with the first quarter of 2010.

The price increases more than offset declines in the domestic slaughter of both cattle and hogs, and in international exports of cattle. Reduced on-farm inventories limited the supply of market animals.

Over the last few years, livestock producers have been affected by U.S. country-of-origin labeling (COOL) legislation, lower demand attributable to the recent economic slowdown and higher feed grain costs. By the end of 2010, the number of cattle on Canadian farms had declined to its lowest level since January 1995. Hog inventories recorded their first increase on a year-over-year basis since 2006.

In the supply-managed sector (dairy, poultry and eggs), farm cash receipts from the first quarter rose 4.3 per cent over the same period in 2010, mainly as a result of increases in prices. Supply-managed commodities accounted for about 44 per cent of total livestock receipts.

Programs

Program payments amounted to $787 million in the first quarter, up 11.3 per cent from the same quarter in 2010. This follows a 16.7 per cent decline between the first quarters of 2009 and 2010, and a 42.4 per cent drop between the first quarters of 2008 and 2009.

— All data are in current dollars. Farm cash receipts measure gross revenue for farm businesses. They do not represent their bottom line, as farmers have to pay their expenses and loans, and cover depreciation.

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