by SUSAN MANN
The recent global recession took a bite out of farmers’ off-farm income in 2009, according to Statistics Canada’s report on farm operators’ income released Thursday.
The average total income of farm operators in 2009 was $71,173, almost the same as in 2008 when it was $71,040. The 2.4 per cent decline in average income from off-farm sources for 2009 offset the 3.4 per cent increase in average net farm operating income, the report says.
Off-farm income made up 53.7 per cent of farm operators’ total income in 2009 and that’s down from 55.1 per cent in 2008.
Lorne Small, president of the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario, says “if you look at those two years, 2008 and 2009, that’s when a lot of people lost overtime pay. Before that there were a lot of people getting paid overtime.”
But when the global recession hit in 2008/09, a lot of employers cut back to basic hours, he says.
Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate climbed 2.2 per cent between 2008 and 2009 hitting 8.3 per cent, which was the highest since 1998. In addition, the actual number of hours worked fell 4.1 per cent between 2008 and 2009.
The Statistics Canada report says average net market income for all operators grew 17.8 per cent in 2009 and that was largely fueled by revenues from grains and oilseeds sales. The strong performance in the grains and oilseeds sector also partly lead to a 23.1 per cent decline in 2009 of average net program payments. “This decline was largely driven by a significant reduction in payments through the federal and provincial business risk management programs,” the report says.
Statistics Canada says its estimates cover farm and off-farm income of people operating unincorporated farms with total operating revenues of $10,000 and over and incorporated farms with total operating revenues of $25,000 and over. The estimates are produced from farm operators’ income tax returns. BF