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Vista on the Agri-Food Industry and the Farm Community

Canadian Agriculture in 2008: An Overview of Key Events

Canadian Agriculture in 2008: An Overview of Key Events

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by Bishnu Saha and Verna Mitura, Statistics Canada

Agriculture in 2008: An Overview of Key Events

Introduction

Uncertainty in commodity markets led to wide fluctuations of grain and oilseed prices in 2008. However, annual average prices of grains and oilseeds remained considerably higher than their 2007 levels. In terms of quantities produced and yields, 2008 was a good year for Canada's grain and oilseed producers. A good harvest of grains and oilseeds and higher average prices contributed to an increase in farm cash receipts.

Prices of fertilizer and fuel continued to increase in 2008 with rising crude oil prices and consequently, shares of feed, fertilizer and fuel costs in total farm operating expenses increased further. Livestock farmers continued to face declining revenues in 2008, while dealing with rising input costs. In addition, the Country of Origin Labelling regulations in the United States created uncertainties in livestock exports. However, the trade surplus in agricultural and fish products grew significantly due to the strength of wheat, canola, barley and meat exports.

In the food sector, food-safety issues came to the forefront with the outbreak of listeriosis through contaminated meat, Salmonella and E. coli contaminations of food products and melamine in some imported milk products. Following the rising trend of grain prices, Canadian retail prices of rice and wheat-based food products such as flour, bread and pasta increased significantly in 2008.

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