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Farm receipts in Manitoba remain sluggish after 2011 flood

FARM cash receipts in Manitoba grew at one of the slowest paces in the country during the first nine months of this year, and one industry official blames it in part on the after-effects from 2011's nightmare growing season.

Keystone Agricultural Producers president Doug Chorney said last year's poor crop meant most Manitoba grain farmers had no leftover grain to sell this year. And that took a big bite out of this year's farm cash receipts.

"We've had a very positive situation for grain prices, but without the crop to sell, it's tough to make anything out of that," Chorney said.

Statistics Canada figures released Monday show farm cash receipts were up by only one per cent from the same period last year.

And 2011 was one of the worst in recent memory for local grain growers because of widespread spring flooding followed by a summer drought in many areas of the province.

The agency said total cash receipts were $3.77 billion versus $3.73 billion for the first nine months of 2011.

Farm cash receipts measure gross revenue for farm businesses and include revenue from the sale of crops and livestock and from government support programs. However, they do not represent farmers' bottom lines, as they must still deduct their expenses for things such as fertilizer, farm fuel, and loan payments, as well as depreciation of their equipment.

As Chorney indicated, it's crop receipts that have taken the big hit this year. They dropped 43 per cent to $1.14 billion from $2.0 billion.

Livestock receipts, on the other hand, were 3.7 per cent higher -- $1.42 billion versus $1.37 billion. And payments from government support programs rose by 8.5 per cent to $383.2 million from $353.4 million

Chorney said high cattle prices have helped to offset the negative fallout from the ongoing hog-industry crisis, where a combination of weak hog prices and soaring feed-grain prices have forced many local hog farmers to sell off a portion, or in some cases, all of their herds.

On the bright side, Chorney said this year's crop was better, so farmers have been selling a lot of grain this fall.

Statistics Canada also released farm net-income numbers for 2011 on Monday. They show a 17.2 per cent drop in net income for Manitoba farmers last year -- $499 million versus $603 million.

Manitoba's decline in net income was in sharp contrast to what happened at the national level, where net income jumped by 53.1 per cent to $5.7 billion.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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