Canadian farmers earn more despite recession

Mon May 25, 2009 12:08pm EDT
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SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (Reuters) - Canadian farmers' market cash receipts, a measure of gross revenue, rose 7.5 percent to C$11 billion ($9.7 billion) in the first quarter from the year-earlier period despite the onset of the global recession in the interval, Statistics Canada reported on Monday.

The increase likely reflects a surge in grain shipments during the quarter, said Greg Marshall, a farmer and president of Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, who noted "(first quarter) commodity prices aren't reflecting any increase in farm income by any means."

Grain prices have rallied in the second quarter after falling sharply from last year's record levels.

Receipts for potatoes, soybeans and canola all saw large increases in the first quarter, helping crop farmers collect a 7.8 percent increase in receipts.

Livestock producers had a 7.1 percent increase despite low prices and new U.S. food-labeling laws that have reduced American imports of meat from Canada. Cattle and hog farmers sold or thinned herds during the quarter to stem losses.

"It's simply just a selloff," said Marshall, who added he recently sold his entire cattle herd.

Hog prices remained low in the first quarter, but they were 27 percent higher than the year-earlier level, Statscan said.

Including payments from government programs, farm cash receipts reached C$11.9 billion. Farm cash receipts do not take into account expenses, loans and depreciation.

Farmers' net income in 2008 rose sharply with an unprecedented runup in grain prices, Statscan also reported.   Continued...

<p>This undated file image shows a field of wheat REUTERS/Handout</p>