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Soybean group highlights growing importance of crop

Soybeans are now Canada's fourth-largest crop by acres and are a major economic force in agriculture

Soy production is surging in Canada, and now there are some hard numbers to attach to the explosive growth.

In the decade ending in 2014, soybean production in Canada essentially doubled to just over six million tonnes, while farm cash receipts from the crop soared as did exports, says an economic assessment from consultants MNP, commissioned by Soy Canada.

It’s made Canada the seventh-largest soy producer and fifth-largest soy exporter in the world.

Ontario accounted for 64 per cent of soy production followed by Quebec at 17 per cent and Manitoba at 16 per cent, Saskatchewan two per cent and Atlantic Canada one per cent, says the study.

“We commissioned… the study so we could capture the full impact of this surge in production – not just on the farm, but in industries and communities all across Canada,” says Jim Everson, Soy Canada’s executive director.

“The analysis confirms that soybeans have become a major economic force in Canada, creating jobs, wealth and opportunities for tens of thousands of people not directly involved in farming.”

Ontario growers earned farm cash receipts of about $1.5 billion in 2014, followed by Quebec at $374 million and Manitoba at $373 million respectively.

Nationally in 2014, the latest year figures were available, soybeans earned farmers $2.3 billion, a 201 per cent increase from 2005, and generated 3.4 million tonnes in exports, a 190 per cent increase in a decade. Soybeans are the fourth-largest seeded crop nationally behind wheat, canola and barley.

Soybeans also generate nearly $1.3 billion in tax revenue for federal, provincial and municipal governments.

Everson said his organization, founded in 2014, will use the report’s findings as it continues to build on the growing importance of soybeans in Canada’s agriculture production and export sectors.

“This analysis will help us demonstrate to our trading partners that Canada is a thriving and reliable supplier of soybeans,” he said. “It also communicates to our own federal and provincial governments that this sector is important to our economy, across the country and in their regions.”

The report says that in 2014, the activities of the soybean industry generated total revenue of $5.8 billion and about 54,435 total full-time-equivalent jobs.

About 80 per cent of the soybean production was GM varieties. However, more than 200 varieties of non-GM or food-grade soybeans were also grown, mostly in Ontario and Quebec.

Soybean farmers involved in the production of non-GM soybeans receive a premium above the world price to compensate for additional management required to meet exporter and end-user standards, ranging from $2 per bushel for a generic identity-preserved soybean to a high of $7 per bushel for a more specialized variety.

The report noted that about 21 per cent of the weight of a soybean is turned into oil, while 75 per cent is turned into meal. The remaining four per cent of the weight of the soybean is lost during processing.

Soybean meal is primarily used to produce animal feed due to its high protein value, with a small fraction used to produce soy flour, soap stock and other industrial products. Soybean oil is primarily consumed as edible oil, and the remaining fraction is used to make industrial products such as biodiesel, waxes, solvents, lubricants, paints and coatings.

The main soybean-processing facilities are located in Ontario and Quebec. These include ADM Agri-Industries in Windsor, Bunge Canada in Hamilton and Viterra in Becancour, Quebec.

Soybean exports worth $1.9 billion in 2014 were exported to more than 50 countries. “Ontario reported the highest value of soybean exports at $886 million, followed by Quebec $604 million, Manitoba $328 million, and Saskatchewan at $106 million, the report reads.

The report also noted soybean exports increased by approximately 30 per cent between 2010 and 2014 and top export destinations were the United States, China, Netherlands, Japan and Belgium.

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