Farm sector incomes predicted to break records

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has completed its farm income forecast for 2023 and 2024, indicating a new record for overall Canadian farm income in 2023 despite various challenges the sector faces.

The forecast shows that Net Cash Income (NCI), the primary metric used to measure farm income, is expected to have increased by 13% to $24.8 billion in 2023, marking a new record.

The most significant difference was a nearly 10 percent rise in livestock receipts to $37.3 billion. Cattle receipts experienced notable price-driven growth, offsetting an anticipated decline in hog receipts. Crop receipts are also forecast to have grown by 4% to $56.0 billion, with improved grain marketings helping mitigate the impact of declining prices.

Operating expenses only increased two percent last year to $74.9 billion. That is well below the 20 percent increase seen in 2022, with the most significant impact coming due to lower fuel and fertilizer costs, while labour and interest expenses are expected to continue increasing.

Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, said the results show how hard farmers in the country continue to work.

“Canadian farmers work hard every day to provide healthy, nutritious and sustainable food to people right across the country and around the world. The results of the farm income forecast show us just how resilient our sector is, with continued growth of overall farm income,” he said. “As Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, I recognize the vitally important role our farmers play in growing the economy and sustaining our country, and I will continue to do everything I can to support them.”

Average Net Operating Income (NOI) per farm is forecast to have increased by 17% in 2023 to $155,000, representing a 34% increase above the 2018-2022 average. Average farm family income, which includes off-farm earnings, is expected to have risen by 11% to $239,000 in 2023.

Looking ahead to 2024, the Average Net Operating Income is forecasted to decline by 14% to $21.3 billion, with crop receipts expected to decrease by 5% due to falling prices. Livestock receipts are projected to continue increasing, albeit at a slower rate of 2%. Average farm-level and farm-family incomes are expected to follow a similar trend to the aggregate measures of income.

Despite the estimated decrease, it would still be 28 percent more than the 2018-22 average.

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