by SUSAN MANN
Farm cash receipts in Ontario were up 11 per cent for the first three months of this year compared to the first quarter of last year.
In total, provincial farm cash receipts hit $2.5 billion for the January to March period compared to $2.3 billion for the same time last year. Farm cash receipts include crop and livestock revenues plus program payments.
The numbers were in Statistics Canada’s report, Farm Cash Receipts, First quarter 2012, released today.
For Canadian farmers, the receipts totaled $14.4 billion during this year’s first quarter and that’s up by 16.9 per cent over $12.3 billion for the same time period last year.
Market receipts from the sale of crops and livestock were $13.6 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 18.3 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2011. Crop receipts rose to $8.2 billion, an increase of 25.2 per cent from 2011, while livestock receipts increased by 9.1 per cent over 2011 to $5.4 billion.
Crop receipts account for more than 60 per cent of the total market receipts.
On the livestock side, cattle and calf receipts increased by 12.5 per cent despite a reduction in the number of head marketed. The increase was due to prices being up 15.9 per cent for January to March compared to the same time period in 2011.
Prof. David Sparling, chair of agri-food innovation and regulation at Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business, says this is a good news story, especially for Ontario. Crops continue to do well but “livestock has been a tough place to be for the last few years. When you look at this you’re seeing an increase in overall prices for both hogs and cattle.”
Sparling says the sector is starting to recover. It had to adjust to the higher Canadian dollar compared to the American dollar and across North America the industry downsized enough “to absorb the extra capacity. Now we’re starting to see the result of a slightly tighter market.”
During the first quarter of this year, Canadian farmers exported 9.9 per cent fewer cattle and calves interprovincially and 5.3 per cent fewer internationally compared to the first quarter of 2011.
For hogs, receipts rose 9.8 per cent mainly due to a 9.9 per cent increase in prices. Average first quarter prices for both cattle and hogs have increased since 2010 primarily because of low North American inventories, the report says.
For supply managed commodities (dairy, poultry and eggs), the gains in farm cash receipts were more modest with those sectors posting an increase of 6.9 per cent in the first quarter compared to the same time period in 2011. That was mainly due to higher prices for feed grain and other production costs.
Program payments were $818 million this January to March, a 1.6 per cent decrease from $831 million in the first quarter of 2011.
In other news, Statistics Canada announced that effective immediately it will only be releasing farm cash receipts data twice a year rather than the four times a year it had been doing previously. Data for the second and third quarters of 2012 will be released in November. BF