More Canada farmers keep up loan payments

Tue Dec 7, 2010 12:07pm EST
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Western Canadian farmers have fallen behind on a smaller proportion of their loan payments this year, despite a weather-delayed harvest and smaller crops, the country's biggest farm lender said on Tuesday.

The number of loan payments that were past due on November 1 in the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba is similar to or slightly lower than previous years, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) said in a press release.

In Saskatchewan, the top crop-growing province that had the most excessive rain, fewer than 4 percent of November 1 payments were past due as of November 25 and about 9 percent of December 1 payments fell behind -- lower rates than a year ago.

Saskatchewan's past-due payments are worth a combined C$5.5 million ($5.4 million).

Wet spring weather left millions of acres out of production and also delayed plant growth. Favorable weather in October -- which is usually the end of the region's harvest period -- dried out fields and allowed farmers to finish harvesting, the government-owned lender said.

Last week, Statistics Canada raised its estimates for wheat and canola production, but the crops will still be the smallest in three years.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel; editing by Rob Wilson)

<p>The Sawyer family harvests their crop of wheat with combines near Acme, Alberta, September 23, 2009. Alberta, a key growing area of spring wheat and canola, has been hit hard this year by cool weather and drought. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>