Fewer but larger farms

The results of the 2016 Census of Agriculture show that the agriculture industry continues to consolidate. There were 193,492 farms counted in 2016, down 5.9% from the previous census in 2011. However, this was the lowest rate of decline in 20 years.

While farm numbers have declined, the average area per farm increased from 779 acres in 2011 to an average of 820 acres in 2016.

The area dedicated to cropland rose 6.9% from 2011 to 93.4 million acres (Chart 2) in 2016, as land that was flooded during the 2011 Census was brought back into production, use of summerfallow decreased and marginal land was converted into productive cropland.


2016 Census of Agriculture

Farm operators are slightly older and there are fewer farms in Canada than in 2011, but farms are on average larger and more area is devoted to crop production according to the results from the 2016 Census of Agriculture.

Over the next six weeks, articles digging deeper into different aspects of Canadian agriculture will be published with further analysis of census results.

Total farm area: Census of Agriculture — Canada

158.7 million acres

decrease-0.9% (period-to-period change)

Agricultural data has been collected in Canada since 1666 and 2016 marks the 22nd Census of Agriculture since Confederation. The census paints a sweeping picture of the agricultural sector. It tracks changes in crops and livestock, as well as the evolution of farming practices and mechanization, from the power of horses to horsepower. Canadian farmers have continually taken advantage of technological advances to more efficiently deliver a wider variety of agricultural products to Canadians and the world.

Total number of agricultural operations, Canada, 1961 to 2016

Chart 1: Total number of agricultural operations, Canada, 1961 to 2016

While total farm area edged down from 2011, the area dedicated to cropland rose to 93.4 million acres in 2016. Although urbanization may reduce cropland available in some areas, a net increase in cropland is attributable to a shift in land use. Farmers have converted land formerly used as pasture, summerfallow or other less productive land into productive area. Canola remains the biggest crop, accounting for more than one-fifth of all cropland.

Land in crops (excluding Christmas trees): Census of Agriculture — Canada

93.4 million acres

increase6.9% (period-to-period change)

The number of farm operators declined from 2011 while the average age continued to rise. However, the proportion of operators under 35 years of age edged up for the first time since 1991. Despite the increase in the average age, only 1 in 12 operations reported having a formal succession plan laying out how the operation will be transferred to the next generation of farmers.

Average age of farm operators: Census of Agriculture — Canada


increase 1.9% (period-to-period change)

Primary agriculture accounted for 1.5% of national gross domestic product (agricultural gross domestic product) in 2013. However, this percentage rises to 4.6% when agricultural input and service providers, primary producers, food and beverage processors, agriculture food retail and wholesale industries are taken into account (Statistics Canada. 2013. Special tabulation, based on 2013 gross domestic product by industry).

Agricultural operations in Canada employed 280,315 people in 2015. From a trade perspective, agricultural goods accounted for 2.2% of Canada’s total imports and 4.6% of total exports (CANSIM table 228-0059, accessed April 13, 2017). In terms of value, almost one-third of Canadian agricultural production was exported in 2013 (CANSIMtable 381-0033,accessed April 13, 2017).

Farm Income Key to Farmland Values: Gervais


Since peaking with a 22.1% year-over-year increase in 2013, annual gains in Canadian farmland values have slowed for three consecutive years.

But Farm Credit Canada Chief Economist J.P. Gervais isn’t worried about those slowing gains turning into actual declines, as long farm income can hold up. And in a webinar Tuesday, he said he remains confident Canadian farm income can do just that, even in the wake of swelling global grain supplies and generally lower commodity prices.

“The key (for farmland values) moving forward is, are we going to be able to sustain farm income? And I have every reason to believe we’re going to do that.”

Earlier this month, FCC’s annual Farmland Values Report showed Canadian farmland values increased an average of 7.9 % in 2016, compared to a 10.1% increase in 2015 and a 14.3 % increase in 2014. The report attributed the slowing gains to the levelling out of commodity prices and some “challenging weather conditions,” particularly on the Prairies where overly wet growing conditions resulted in quality problems and a large amount of crop that was stranded in the field at harvest.

But in taking a closer look at the report, Gervais pointed out that none of the 51 regions across Canada where land values were examined actually saw a decline compared to a year earlier. Indeed, there were only seven regions were land values were actually flat, while the remainder all showed at least some measure of increase.

In general, Gervais said the increases in Canadian farmland values reflect the gains in farm income. For example, there was a massive increase in farm cash receipts (mainly due to sharply higher crop prices and rising production) from 2005 into 2014, a period when farmland values were increasing sharply as well. In fact, during the last four years of that period, from 2011 to 2014, nationwide farmland values increased an average of 17.6%. In comparison, in the prior period from 2000 to 2003, farmland values climbed much more modestly, averaging only a 3% gain.

For 2016 and this year as well, Gervais said the forecast for Canadian farm income is mostly steady, as the lower Canadian dollar (compared to the U.S. dollar) helps to support returns on this side of the border.

With little upside expected in oil prices – one of the main drivers of the Canadian dollar – he said he believes the loonie will average about 75 cents US in 2017, enough of a discount to the American greenback that Canadian farmers will do better financially compared to their U.S. counterparts. In contrast, a move to around the 85-cent level would likely be enough to push some returns into the red, he added.

“The Canadian dollar has a tremendous impact on the marketplace.”

Also helping to support Canadian farmland values going forward should be the continuation of low interest rates. Although he said he doesn’t expect the Bank of Canada to raise its key benchmark rate this year, Gervais warned that it’s still likely Canadian farmers will see some increase in borrowing costs in 2017, simply because of the trend higher south of the border.

Regardless, the increases are likely to be modest, still keeping borrowing costs historically low, Gervais said.

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

Information contained herein is believed to be accurate but is not guaranteed by the parties providing it. Syngenta, DePutter Publishing Ltd. and their information sources assume no responsibility or liability for any action taken as a result of any information or advice contained in these reports, and any action taken is solely at the liability and responsibility of the user.

New Feed Mill Means 20 Jobs To Westman Community

Original Content posted from:


The mayor of Killarney-Turtle Mountain is excited about the prospect of 20 new jobs coming to his community.

HyLife has applied for a conditional use permit to build a new feed mill just northeast of Killarney. “The hearing is coming up on April 19th and if it passes we are looking forward to a long standing working relationship again with HyLife” said Mayor Rick Pauls.

Pauls says attracting that many jobs to a small scale community is a hard thing to do and the fact they have someone willing to invest that much into the community will mean a lot to the entire region. “This could be 20 new families which means maybe up to 80 new people moving in and that will benefit our schools and our businesses.”
HyLife has invested millions into the area leading up to this announcement and Rick Pauls sees the feed mill as an expansion of that commitment and geographically he says Killarney was a central location for the plant.

Council will hold the conditional use hearing on April 19th. “This will be built in the ag-zone and it crosses over because it isn’t actually farming but farm manufacturing. So they do need to get a conditional use permit the same as other elevators and feed mills in the community have had to do.”
Mayor Pauls doesn’t anticipate any problem getting the permit approved but he says nothing is for certain until after the hearing.
“If we approve the permit on April 19th, HyLife is good to go and construction would start shortly after the hearing.” Killarney-Turtle Mountain Mayor Rick Pauls feels the community is on a real roll.


Farm debt seems manageable, FCC head says


“Canadian agriculture is strong and stable,” he told the annual meeting of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. However, farmers need to keep their pencils sharp and continued diligence is required.

FCC holds more than $30 billion of that debt and the federal agency is faring well, he said. “More than 99 per cent of our portfolio is in good standing,” Hoffert said. He rated agriculture’s overall financial health as very good and said the opportunity for the sector “has never been greater.”

Farm debt has climbed in recent years but so has farm cash income which reached $59.4 billion in 2015 compared to $40 billion in 2007, he said. While farm income for 2016 will likely be just below $58 billion because of lower crop returns, this year’s numbers should at least match 2015 if not better that result, he said. “Farm cash receipts have grown steadily during the last 10 years. Farm debt can’t be compared to consumer debt where incomes are stagnant.”

The farm debt-to-asset ratio has eased and “is in a healthy situation,” he said. Rising land values and higher costs for machinery and buildings are the main factor in the rising debt. “This is a very capital-intensive industry.” Farm asset value in 2015 was $561.1 billion compared to $267.4 billion in 2005. The debt-to-asset ratio is healthy and liquidity remains strong, he said. In 2015, the debt-to-asset ratio on Canadian farms remained historically low at 15.5 per cent, compared to the previous five-year average of 15.9 per cent and the 15-year average of 16.7 per cent. A low debt-to-asset ratio is generally considered better for business, since it provides financial flexibility and lowers risk for producers.

Liquidity in terms of producers to meet short-term payments, and solvency – the proportion of total assets financed by debt – have remained consistently strong over the past five years, he said.

Beyond the balance sheet, there are other positive signs for Canadian agriculture, he said. More than 12,000 young men and women are studying agriculture-related topics in post-secondary schools. “Agriculture programs are among the fastest growing and there are more than 114,000 jobs available in the sector,” he said. Canada is rated No. 1 globally in food safety performance, according to the Conference Board of Canada, he said. It’s third in agriculture sustainability. “We have an amazing opportunity to make Canada an agriculture superpower,” he said referring to the growing world population expected to reach 9.5 billion in 2050. “The opportunity has never been greater; we need to dream bigger. “In the next 40 years, humans will need to produce more food than they did in the previous 10,000 put together.”

Asked what FCC could do to assist young people who want to farm but don’t have land, Hoffort said there are no easy solutions. “We have to find innovative ways to assist people in that situation.”


Upcoming Events

We will be in attendance at the following upcoming trade shows:

Manitoba Dairy Conference – Dec 7-9, 2016 – The Victoria Inn, Winnipeg, MB

Prairie Livestock Expo – Dec 14, 2016 – The Victoria Inn, Winnipeg, MB

MB Ag Days – Jan 17-19, 2017 – Keystone Centre, Brandon, MB

Stop by our booth to say Hi!

Land For Tender


Sealed bids for the purchase of the following parcels of land, located in the RM of Portage la Prairie and in the RM of Westlake-Gladstone, Manitoba, will be received up to 5.00 pm on December 7, 2015 at the offices of CanadianFarmRealty.com, Box 7, Graysville, MB, R0G 0T0, Attention: Dolf Feddes:

Parcel number     Legal Description Acres

1                              NE 6-14-8W                          156.33

2                              NE 31-13-8W                        160.17

3                              NE 7-14-8W                          134.78

4                              SW 5-14-8W                         160.0

5                              SE & SW 18-14-8W              169.04   includes yard site with 2 tarp shelters used for machinery storage (30’ * 116) and approximately 42,000 bushels of grain storage.

6                              NW 22-12-8W                      158.0

7                              SE 17-13-8W                         148.83

8                              NE 17-13-8W                        157.03

9                              NW 19-12-7W                      143.39

10                           NW 9-13-8W                        141.49

11                           SE 23-12-8W                         147.32

12                           NE, NW, SE, SW 28-13-7        640

13           Pt of NE 26-14-9W, NW 25-14-9W, Pt of NE 35-14-9W, W1/2 of NW36-14-9W, SW36-14-9W, SE35-14-9W, SW25-14-9W.                                513.54 total acres includes yard site with Goodon machine shed, some grain storage and older cattle facilities.

14                           SW 20-13-8W                       157.42

15                           SE 20-13-8W                         153.69

16                           NE 11-12-8W                        206.55

17                           Pt of SE/SW 21-13-8W            6.27

The following will apply to all tenders:

Interested parties must rely on their own inspection and knowledge of the properties. Bids shall address each parcel as a separate unit. Tenders are required to offer a total purchase amount for the parcel that is the subject of such tender. The vendor reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Purchaser will be responsible for total of 2016 property taxes.

All offers are to be submitted in sealed envelopes accompanied by a certified cheque or bank draft payable to “Royal LePage Riverbend Realty in Trust” for 5% of the tendered amount.  Cheques will be returned in respect to tenders that are not accepted.

Successful bidders will be asked to enter into a formal Purchase agreement covering the terms and conditions of the sale with a possession date of January 8, 2016. The purchaser(s) shall be responsible for GST or shall self-assess for GST.

  • Offers on any one parcel shall not be contingent on the successful purchase of another parcel.
  • Offers on any one parcel can be contingent on not being successful in the purchase of another parcel. Buyers should clearly state their order of preference of tender parcels.

Tenders will be held in confidence and not be released to the public. Any questions regarding these parcels, or this tender can be directed to: Dolf Feddes, REALTOR at 204- 828-3371 (office) or 204-745-0451 (cell).

Despite high beef prices, we love our burgers and steaks

Guelph Mercury

Beef prices have gone up on average by more than 40 per cent across Canada in the last three years.

Depressed inventories across North America and higher feed costs have led to spectacular retail price hikes for products like round steaks, prime ribs and ground beef. Canadians’ love affair with our favourite red protein is definitely being challenged these days by what’s happening at the meat counter.

Whether we like it or not, this new normal in beef means that consumers waiting for discount prices will have to wait for a very, very long time.

Rest assured, this phenomenon is not exclusive to Canada. Beef prices worldwide are reaching record levels. In the United States, beef prices have almost doubled since 2009.

In Europe, the situation is even worse. Beef production is dropping due to the uncertainty generated by the implementation of the new common agricultural policy and the end of dairy quotas this year, hence putting pressure on retail prices upwards. In short, no one in the western world is immune to what’s happening with beef prices.

Nonetheless, despite higher prices and widespread claims that cattle production is an environmentally unfriendly way to feed the world, the future of the cattle industry couldn’t be brighter. Skeptical?

Here’s the argument. First of all, producers who have remained in the industry are making a decent living. The cattle industry has been too often affected by economic cycles, food safety crises and trade wars, but things are much calmer now. That’s quite the contrast from what has happened over the last few decades or so.

Second, and most importantly, over the past two decades beef has been slowly becoming a luxury food product, as should be the case. Paying a premium for beef is something the market has primed for already. Although demand per capita for beef in Canada has steadily dropped over the last 20 years, price hikes haven’t really accelerated the trend in the last three years. This may suggest that many of us still remain loyal to our burgers and steaks.

It seems consumers sticking to beef will either trade down, buying lean beef in lieu of extra lean for example, or will buy beef less frequently. Because of our aging population, this only makes sense. Many will look for other more affordable protein sources like chicken or pork.

Pork prices, interestingly, have gone up as well, despite lower prices at the farm gate. Continuous, symmetric benchmarking by retailers between pork and beef prices allows both categories to rise, even if wholesale pork prices have actually gone down.

That’s just the way things work in food retailing. Retail prices are sometimes decoupled from what goes on at the farm. The most significant case was in 2003 when mad cow disease lowered prices at the farm gate by 70 per cent overnight, and prices for beef products at retail barely moved. Essentially, this means meat prices across the board will likely continue to rise although not necessarily at current rates.

The resilience of beef demand is making a case for protein’s currency in the market place. The market is showing consumers’ willingness to pay for the actual cost of meat production.

If the industry wants to address market-based concerns such as traceability, animal welfare and environmental stewardship, this influx of capital can only spell good news.

This is also good news for natural and organic cattle farmers out there. In recent years, price-point differentials between conventional and specialty beef products are slowly decreasing, giving a legitimate choice to those who want to support different production protocols. For those concerned about affordability, more affordable substitutes are plentiful, including vegetable proteins and fish.

The cattle industry is doing much better now, and its brand equity as a commodity seems strong. Peculiar marketing campaigns to sell a breed as a superior product, as we saw with certified Angus Beef, may not be as necessary in the future.

Consumers are not only smarter, but they seem keen to embrace beef as a premium, high-quality food item on their menu.

Sylvain Charlebois is a professor at the food institute at the University of Guelph. He is currently on leave at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

Canadian Hog Production

Shrinking hog production in Canada

The Canadian sow and pig herds have shrunk over the last ten years. In 2014, about 25 million hogs were produced. That’s slightly below the 2013 output and about 6 per cent lower than the 5-year average.

The sow herd saw a small year-over-year increase at the end of 2014, mostly because of more favourable profit margins compared to 2013 levels. The sector enjoyed record prices in July 2014, due to tight supplies resulting from Porcine Epidemic Disease (PEDv) in the United States.

The USDA March report of hogs and pigs shows the hog inventory is up 7 per cent and the breeding herd is up 2 per cent year over year. Hog prices have declined markedly with recently increased supplies. Canadian hogs exported south of the border may face more pressure than last year and we should see prices flatten throughout the next few months.

Pigs and profits: what will the new Codes of Practice change?

The industrial production of hogs has been challenged by growing consumer concern with farm animal welfare. And large global retailers have been supportive of these concerns; many have announced new guidelines for pork suppliers.

These developments helped to drive the development of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs (2014) in Canada. Producers are now required to fit new barns with group housing at an estimated cost of $2500-3000 per sow or to retrofit existing barns by 2024. Those costs will depend on the scale of operations, but some industry estimates reveal it will be about $700 per sow to convert from individual stalls to group housing for a typical herd of 1200 sows.

While some studies suggest consumers are willing to pay for enhanced animal welfare, it’s too early to estimate the impact to profitability. Larger farms will be better suited to absorb the additional costs than the smaller and/or independent producers. And there’s concern that this won’t be the last change in codes; it was another change in the Code of Practice in the 1980s that prompted a move from group housing to individual stalls.

Expanding global exports and consumption = Opportunity

Canada exports more live hogs than any other country, and is projected to be the world’s sixth largest producer in 2015. We are also a major supplier of pork meat in the world market.

World pork consumption is estimated to continue to grow 11 per cent between 2014 and 2023, largely driven by emerging economies such as China, Viet Nam and Brazil. U.S. pork consumption and imports are likely to grow by 13 per cent and 12 per cent respectively for the next 10 years. With the increasing odds of consumers and countries refusing pork from antibiotics-treated and/or controversial animal-welfare production systems, it may be necessary for Canadian producers to consider various options.

The Canadian hog sector needs to assess the risks of falling behind other global exporters. Transitioning will cost producers, but so would losing market share in this expanding world market. Not all markets are created equal: some are volatile but offer premiums, while others offer stability but tighter profit margins.

To share the opportunities and thrive in the global competition, it’s critical for the Canadian sector to look ahead into the challenges and lead the charge to provide solutions.

Joe Chen, Agricultural Economics Intern
From FCC website https://www.fcc-fac.ca/en/ag-knowledge/ag-economist/an-outlook-for-the-canadian-hog-sector-look-around-and-look-ahead.html