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Last year’s net income data tells woeful story about farm industry

Net farm income across Canada declined 3.2 per cent to $3.711 million
ron walter may 2020 ag income
Photo by Ron Walter

That farmers had a bad year in 2019 is a given considering the late harvest, poor grades, and declines in grain prices.

The extent of the ill-fated year shows in the farm income data for last year released by Statistics Canada.

Total farm cash receipts of $66 billion were up four per cent from 2018. Saskatchewan farm receipts were up .6 per cent — $39 million — to $14.06 billion.

Net farm income across Canada declined 3.2 per cent to $3.711 million.

The decline would have been more severe had farmers not sold off inventories of grain and cattle from previous years.

The $1.05 billion reduction in Canadian farm inventories accounted for just over one of every four dollars of net income farmers banked.

Net farm income in Saskatchewan took a bigger hit than the national average.

Net farm income in this province fell 23.1 per cent to $1.36 billion as grain prices fell with loss of international markets, a wet harvest reduced yields and grades, and costs increased for harvest and grain drying.

The $322 million sell-off of farm inventory in Saskatchewan amounted to 23 per cent of net income.

In neighbouring Alberta, net farm income jumped 10.8 per cent to $14.9 billon on a strong cattle market and irrigation crops.

Manitoba’s grain-dominated agriculture had a 15 per cent decline in net farm income to $542.7 million. Thirty-four per cent of that was a sell-off of inventory.

Ontario net farm income of $444 million was down less than one per cent while Quebec net income increased 14 per cent to $803 million. Much of Quebec farming is dairy and chickens with prices regulated by marketing boards.

British Columbia agriculture, dominated by vegetables, fruit, livestock and legal marijuana increased net income by 65 per cent to $66.1 million.

P.E.I. farmers saw net income almost double to $80.2 million while New Brunswick net income gained 69 per cent to $123.5 million. Both provinces experienced poor harvest with soaring prices.

The loss in Nova Scotia agriculture increased to $50.7 million from $39.9 million.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, net farm income losses of $1.8 million increased by $600,000.

Ron Walter can be reached at