By Connor Lynch
OTTAWA — Canadian farmers are going to have back-to-back years of falling farm income but the drop from a record high still means 2017 will be the fourth-best income earning year for Canadian farmers.
That’s according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s 2017 outlook report that pegs 2016 and 2017 as declining income years, largely in livestock. Total net cash income for Canadian farms was estimated at $14.8 billion last year, and that’s expected to drop to $13.8 billion in 2017, a seven per cent decrease.
Despite that, agriculture is still riding high. 2016 will still be the second-best year on record for net cash income, and even a $1 billion drop in 2017 would put it at the fourth-best year on record for Canadian agriculture. The best year on record for net cash income on the farm was 2015, which saw Canadian farmers rake in $15.1 billion.
When commodity prices dropped in 2015, a similar drop in the dollar shielded farmers from the worst of it. But the loonie is expected to be stable this year, which puts farmers at greater risk of international price fluctuations.
Ontario’s total net farm income is expected to drop significantly. In 2016, it was estimated at a 25 per cent decrease from 2015, going from $1.2 billion to $903 million. That’s expected to fall even more in 2017, going down to $508.5 million, a 44 per cent decrease from 2016.
Across Canada, crop receipts are looking good. Prices are expected to go down but receipts were estimated at $32.6 billion in 2016 and those are expected to creep up to $32.9 billion in 2017. Crop prices are still well above what they were in the 1990s and 2000s.
Livestock is going to be the hardest-hit sector, in particular the beef sector, as American slaughter rates continue to soar. Receipts were expected to fall across sectors by 7 per cent in 2016 to $23.9 billion, and that’s expected to drop another 4 per cent in 2017 to $22.8 billion.
Cattle and calf prices saw an estimated 21 per cent drop in 2016. That’s expected to turn into a decline in cattle receipts for 2017 of 13 per cent, which would bring them down to just under $8 billion.