Could the losses really be one billion dollars? From a Western Canadian perspective, assuming an average price of $6.00 to $7.00 per bushel and average loss of two to three bushels per acre, the overall impact would in fact be approximately one billion dollars! While this number is based on some estimations, the potential impact to Western Canada certainly merits attention. Every farmer needs a harvesting strategy to get the most high-quality grain into their bin.
With harvesting wrapping up for the year, now – not next fall – is the best time to evaluate this year’s harvest to optimize next year’s harvesting strategy. Unlike farming decisions made at seeding time in the spring when the outcome is quite uncertain due to the months of weather and many other variables, good decisions around harvest are much more direct and the benefits more immediate. Nevertheless, the sporadic nature of harvest weather – Will it rain? Will it be sunny? Will it snow? – is always on top of the farmer’s mind.
In the last two issues I looked at wheat and canola production from 1995 to 2015 to try and answer the question, are we better off today than yesterday? In both cases, it appears that we are better off today. Back in 1995, it was difficult to show profitability in any aspect of grain farming. Today, there is profit. Sometimes it is very little and only in a handful of crops, but nonetheless, it is there.
One financial aspect that I discovered was the rising cost of land. From 1995, the investment cost of the land rose 227 per cent but the gross margin only went up 68 per cent. So why did land go up so much? What effect does this have on the industry? This is what I will attempt to answer.
The most accurate data I can find is relating to my own situation. My land is in the Rural Municipality of Grayson, Saskatchewan on the eastern side of the province. I will go through the changes that have occurred in my area and the effect it has had on the industry.
The language of Ecological Goods and Services
Farmers and ranchers are entering a new era in agriculture that comes with a new set of public expectations. For their grandparents it may have been enough to simply grow food upon the land the best way they could, but today’s producers hear increasingly that they should not only grow a lot of food but that they must do it without impairing the land’s capacity to store carbon, foster biodiversity, and protect the health of the soil and water.
People who grow food make choices the same way the rest of us do. Sometimes we sacrifice our immediate needs for a long-term good, but most of the time we don’t; sometimes we justify paying a higher cost to protect something we value, but most of the time we want to keep our costs low and income high.