Melanie ConsCanadian Farm News

From Statistics Canada

Farm cash receipts for Canadian farmers totalled $15.4 billion in the first quarter, down 5.3% from the same quarter in 2017. Lower crop receipts and program payments contributed to the decline, while livestock receipts were unchanged.

This was the first year-over-year decline for a first quarter since 2014.

Farm cash receipts, which include crop and livestock revenues, as well as program payments, were down in seven provinces compared with the first quarter of 2017. Declines ranged from 1.2% in Nova Scotia to 11.0% in Saskatchewan. Ontario’s decline was 2%. Meanwhile, receipts increased in New Brunswick (+5.3%), Newfoundland and Labrador (+2.3%) and British Columbia (+1.2%).

Lower receipts in Saskatchewan (-$499 million) and Alberta (-$232 million) were largely responsible for the national decrease.

Crop receipts

Crop receipts totalled $8.8 billion in the first quarter, down $573 million or 6.1% from the same quarter in 2017. Significant declines in canola, dry pea and lentil receipts more than offset smaller gains in soybean, barley and wheat receipts.

Despite record canola production in 2017, and record farm stocks at the beginning of 2018, producers marketed 11.9% less canola in the first quarter. Lower marketings were offset by a slight rise in average prices (+1.0%), resulting in a $279 million or 11.0% decline in canola receipts in the first quarter compared with the same quarter in 2017. Domestic canola crushing fell 4.9% in the quarter, while rail service delays also affected producer deliveries.

Receipts of dry peas decreased 59.0% or by $208 million, while lentils receipts fell 50.3% or by $188 million. This marks a second consecutive year-over-year decline for both these pulse crops.

Marketings of dry peas fell 51.9% to their lowest first quarter level since 2007. A 14.8% drop in prices also contributed to lower dry pea receipts.

The decline in lentil receipts was attributable to both a sharp drop in average prices (-40.0%) and lower marketings (-17.1%).

A number of factors have contributed to lower prices and marketings for these crops. The export market has deteriorated, largely due to the introduction of import tariffs and changes to the fumigation rules in India, the top market for these crops. World supplies have also risen.

Increased soybean (+12.6%), barley (+29.9%) and wheat (including durum) (+3.1%) receipts partially offset the decline in crop receipts.

Provincially, decreases in crop receipts ranged from 0.6% in Manitoba to 9.4% in Alberta. Nova Scotia (+7.0%), New Brunswick (+4.8%) and British Columbia (+0.2%) were the only provinces to record higher crop receipts in the first quarter. In Ontario, the decrease was 2%.

Higher apple receipts was the main driver behind the increases in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, mainly the result of higher prices. In New Brunswick, higher marketing resulted in a 7.7% increase in potato receipts.

Livestock receipts

Livestock receipts totalled $6.2 billion in the first quarter of 2018, unchanged from the same period in 2017.

Cattle and calf receipts edged up 1.3% to $2.2 billion in the first quarter, as prices rose at a similar pace.

A 5.1% increase in the number of animals slaughtered domestically offset a 7.4% decrease in the number of animals exported.

Receipts from the supply-managed sectors rose 1.1% to $2.6 billion in the first quarter. Small increases in dairy (+0.7%), egg (+4.2%), and chicken (+1.2%) receipts contributed to the rise. Increased marketings were the main reason for the gains, as both dairy and chicken prices declined.

Offsetting these increases was a 5.5% decrease in hog receipts to $1.1 billion for the first quarter. Both prices (-3.6%) and marketings (-1.9%) were down from the same period in 2017.

Livestock receipts rose in seven provinces, ranging from 1.4% in Nova Scotia to 6.1% in Prince Edward Island. Receipts were down in Quebec (-1.1%), Manitoba (-2.9%) and Ontario (-3.0%).

Program payments

Program payments were down 40.1% from the first quarter of 2017 to $435 million. Lower crop insurance payments in Western Canada were the main reason for the decline.