Canadian agriculture has come through COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns pretty well, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Despite “images of dumped milk and shuttered restaurants dominated media attention industry concerns about widespread animal culling, shortages of vital agricultural inputs, and crops rotting in fields have largely been avoided,” the report said.
Released last month, the report noted, “The Canadian food and agricultural industries appear to have avoided many of the dire predictions made in the spring.”
The report also broke things down by sector.
Beef: Despite a slaughter backlog of over 100,000-head and exports being down by double digits in June, beef shipments “remained above the five-year average and are expected to recover in the second half of 2020,” assuming processing plants don’t get shut down and business picks up.
Pork: Despite processing disruptions, exports remained strong, mostly to China, which became Canada’s top destination for pork in June, according to the report. As of Aug. 1, hog slaughter levels were back to where they were pre-covid.
Poultry and Eggs: The poultry and egg sectors weathered the lockdown well. “Strong demand from more frequent ‘dining-in’ coupled with the summer barbeque season helped to drive poultry production back to levels closer to what would have been expected for summer 2020, absent COVID-19.”
Dairy: Demand fell for dairy products at the beginning of lockdown and hasn’t fully recovered. But exports are up, particularly for milk protein and whey power, which were up nearly 35 per cent over the same period in 2019.
Grains: Concerns about accessing inputs proved unfounded, and increased demand for flour and pasta boosted wheat prices. Lack of ethanol demand has hurt corn demand, however; lack of demand for beer weakened barley demand.
Oilseeds: China’s suspension of Canada’s two largest export license holders of canola has had more impact than COVID-19.
Fruit and veggies: Planting area is down due to difficulty accessing foreign workers. So far, the vegetable trade between the U.S. and Canada looks normal, “demonstrating the resilience of the industry.”