Trade a top is­sue in agri­cul­ture in 2015

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - COMMUNITY/FEATURES - This ar­ti­cle was from the depart­ment of agri­cul­ture and fish­eries. For com­ments and sug­ges­tions, email wemack­in­non@gov.pe.ca.

Trade and trade talks dom­i­nated Cana­dian agri­cul­ture is­sues in 2015. A new re­port from Farm Credit Canada says the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship ne­go­ti­a­tions were ar­guably the top eco­nomic story of the year. Al­though of­fi­cials are still por­ing over the fine print, and the deal has yet to be rat­i­fied, the text of­fered a glimpse of fu­ture busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges for the agri­cul­ture in­dus­try. Al­ready, 51 per­cent of Canada’s agri-food ex­ports go to the coun­tries that are part of the TPP.

The deal would open up new op­por­tu­ni­ties for beef, pork, grains and oilseeds. It could have a ma­jor im­pact on the fu­ture of sup­ply man­age­ment in Canada as we know it.

The Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture was sup­port­ive of Canada’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

In other trade is­sues, the re­peal of coun­try-of-ori­gin la­bels by the United States Congress as the year drew to a close re­moved a long-stand­ing trade ir­ri­tant be­tween Canada and the U.S.

An­other top story in 2015 was the Bank of Canada’s ap­proach to in­ter­est rates. It cut the bench­mark in­ter­est rate twice, largely in re­sponse to the fall in oil prices and the weak­ness of the econ­omy. The low in­ter­est rate en­vi­ron­ment has en­abled pro­duc­ers and agri-busi­nesses to take ad­van­tage of ex­pan­sion op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­vest in longterm growth.

The lower Cana­dian dol­lar helped to sup­port ex­ports and pro­vided strong boost to profit mar­gins in both crops and live­stock. By com­par­i­son, soy­bean prices in the United States dropped by 20 per­cent last year, but were down by only 13 per­cent in Canada. Cat­tle and calf prices in­creased be­tween three and 10 per­cent in the U.S., but were up by 20 per­cent in Canada.

In Prince Ed­ward Is­land, de­spite a late spring, most crops showed good yield and qual­ity. Potato acreage was down slightly to 89,500 acres. There were 89,000 acres of wheat, oats, bar­ley and mixed grain and 58,000 acres of soy­beans.

Farm cash re­ceipts for the first three quar­ters of 2015 were es­ti­mated at $357.3 mil­lion, up by 1.5 per­cent over the pre­vi­ous year. Live­stock re­ceipts were up by 4.8 per­cent, soy­bean re­ceipts were down by 7.7 per­cent while re­ceipts from wheat were up by 19.8 per­cent. Potato re­ceipts showed a slight de­cline. To­tal farm cash re­ceipts in 2014 were $476.4 mil­lion.

Look­ing ahead to 2016, Farm Credit Canada is pre­dict­ing an­other good year for Cana­dian agri­cul­ture. It fore­casts that in­ter­est rates will re­main low, the loonie will drop even lower and strong eco­nomic growth in China will be pos­i­tive for global food de­mand.

Have a pro­duc­tive and pros­per­ous new year.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the top is­sues in 2015, go to fc­c­fac.ca/en/ag/a-year-in-re­view-the-top-is­sues-that-im­pact­ed­cana­di­ana­gri­cul­ture-in-2015.html

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