Higher prices lift farmer optimism in FCC survey

Over three-quarters of farmers responding last fall to a Farm Credit Canada survey nationwide expect their farm or ag business will be better off in five years.

That’s up from just 70 per cent at the same time in 2009, the federal ag lending agency said in a release Monday.

“There are many reasons for optimism but if I had to narrow it to one thing, I’d say increased commodity prices in the crop and livestock sectors,” FCC Prairie operations vice-president Corinna Mitchell-Beaudin said of the lender’s fourth annual study in a release.

“Even with all the rain we experienced this growing season which, for sure, was a challenge for some, producers are resilient and a short-term problem like a wet year can’t fizzle a long-term mindset that agriculture is a great industry and there’s a future in it.”

More of the Canadian producer taking part in the survey report being better off than they were five years ago and that they have higher expectations for future growth than in the past.

The 4,900-odd respondents, out of about 9,000 who participate in such surveys through FCC’s “Vision Panel,” also show “continued advocacy for careers in agriculture,” FCC said. “Intentions to expand and diversify are also at a four-year high.”

Specifically, according to the Vision Panel respondents:

  • 67 per cent believe that they are better off now than they were five years ago, up from 60 per cent in 2009;
  • 55 per cent plan to expand and/or diversify their farms or businesses in the next five years;
  • 80 per cent are more likely to recommend a career in an a-grelated field to a friend or family member, compared to 64 per cent who’d recommend a career in primary production;
  • most don’t plan changes to their capital spending in 2011, but those who do are most likely to spend on equipment (42 per cent), inputs (35 per cent) and land (26 per cent);
  • their spending is largely driven by current business or succession plans (34 per cent);
  • perceived “top opportunities” include commodity prices (15 per cent, up from eight per cent in 2009), public demand for new products (13 per cent) and increased demand for product (12 per cent); and
  • perceived challenges include making a profit (23 per cent, up from 19 per cent in 2009) and rising input costs (21 per cent, down from 56 per cent in 2008).

About 81 per cent of livestock producers whose animals typically fall in the “other” category such as sheep, goats, llamas and bison were found to be much more likely to believe that their farm or business will be better off in the next five years.

That’s compared to crop producers and dairy producers at 78 per cent, and 69 per cent among hog producers.

Geographically, about 78 per cent of B.C. and Quebec respondents expected their farm or business to be better off in five years, compared to 77 per cent in Saskatchewan, 76 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 75 per cent in Alberta and Ontario and 73 per cent in Manitoba.

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