Increasing farm cash receipts don’t tell the whole story, as the cost of inputs like fuel and fertilizer continue to rise
Farm cash receipts are up in Manitoba for the first nine months of 2013. Way up.
According to numbers released by Statistics Canada, Manitoba has seen an increase of 14.7 per cent or $500 million — the largest increase in Canada — over the same period last year.
Farm cash receipts for Canadian farmers totalled $39.9 billion between January and September, up 1.9 per cent from the same period in 2012. This follows an 8.5 per cent gain between the first nine months of 2011 and 2012. Farm cash receipts include market receipts from the sale of crops and livestock, as well as program payments.
“There’s no doubt that Manitoba producers grew a big crop on average across the province. There are some areas where production challenges affected outcomes, but by and large it was a big crop here and in Saskatchewan and Alberta,” said Doug Chorney, president of the Keystone Agricultural Producers.
And those numbers only represent the tip of the iceberg. The bulk of the 2013 crop is still making its way to final destinations as farmers deal with a plugged transportation system.
“The farm income numbers that were released this week don’t really reflect that,” Chorney said, noting only early 2013 crops such as winter wheat were delivered in the first three quarters of the year.
Much of what has increased cash receipts for 2013, has actually been the old crop from 2012, he said.
“On average, 2012 was a pretty decent crop for Manitoba as well, but more importantly we had high commodity prices, so regardless of tonnes, the dollars were there for most people on a gross basis,” said Chorney.
“The crop we grew in 2013 will now be sold through the balance of 2013 and into 2014, and with the transportation problems that may be dragged out right to the end of the crop year, so I expect to see pretty strong numbers for the next reporting period as well,” he added.
But the KAP representative cautioned that farm receipts don’t tell the whole story in Manitoba, or any other province for that matter.
“We also saw a very big increase in expenses, with fuel and nitrogen fertilizer… we had very good gross income numbers, but net income was not positive, in fact it declined in the same period,” he said.
Farm receipts also include money received from government support programs.
And while 2013 will go down as a harvest to remember for Manitoba’s grain farmers — crop receipts grew by a whopping 28.7 per cent, livestock producers only saw an increase of 2.9 per cent.
Chorney notes the biggest reason for the increase seen in Manitoba grain farm receipts this year dates back to 2011.
Widespread flooding that year saw 25 per cent of the province’s cropland go unseeded, while an additional half-million acres were flooded out. That reduced farm cash receipts throughout 2012.
“So comparably it looks really good, that’s why it appears to show such a significant increase,” he said.
A 2012 drought in the U.S. has also helped to increase prices, again leading to higher cash receipts for farmers in Manitoba.
“It really depends on conditions, but we seem to have hit a new plateau of commodity prices for coarse grains and oilseeds worldwide,” Chorney said.
The data also shows that on a commodity basis, canola continues to be the top crop in Canada by way of cash receipts, but its performance declined nearly 12 per cent over the same period last year as marketings fell 16.7 per cent. Canola receipts totalled $5.3 billion, accounting for 24 per cent of total crop receipts.
Wheat (excluding durum) receipts totalled $3.9 billion from January to September, up $980 million or 33.5 per cent higher than the same period in 2012. Both a 25.9 per cent increase in average prices and a six per cent gain in marketings contributed to the strong growth.