POLITICS

Record year for farm incomes in 2014, says federal agriculture outlook

02/13/2015 01:06 EST | Updated 04/15/2015 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - Agriculture Canada says 2014 was a bumper year for the country's farmers, with aggregate net cash income projected to total a record $14 billion.

The department's 2015 Canadian Agricultural Outlook says incomes will be off from that this year, but will remain strong.

Preliminary forecasts for 2015 suggest farm incomes will slip to $13 billion due to lower grain and oilseeds receipts because of a U.S. bumper crop in 2014 and higher world stocks.

The forecast says a weaker loonie will make Canadian products more competitive and temper some price declines.

It says recent declines in fuel prices will also add to agriculture income, but the volatility in crude oil markets makes it hard to estimate the full impact.

Average total income of farm families, which includes the family's share of net operating income from the farm and other income, is projected to reach $131,595 in 2014 and $134,931 in 2015.

The outlook says things are looking good for the near future.

"The medium-term prospects for agriculture and agri-food demand and trade are positive," the department said.

"Rising global economic growth and increasing incomes in large, emerging countries will continue to spur demand-side growth and Canada will continue to be an important supplier in many of these markets."

In livestock, the cattle and hog sectors enjoyed record prices in 2014 due to low North American supplies. Weakening feed grain prices also contributed to higher incomes.

The department predicts that total livestock receipts will not change significantly in 2015, although cattle receipts will continue to benefit from tight markets and higher prices.

"Hog producers have seen high levels of price and income variability over the last decade and this variability is expected to continue over the near term."