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Farm economy mini-conference

Speakers discuss economic issues in agriculture

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

Are farmers heading for another farm financial crisis? That’s one of the questions attempting to be answered by some bright minds in the agricultural economy industry at a mini-conference at Guelph’s OMAFRA building.

Before farmers can understand where the future of the economy may take them, they first have to understand where they are and where they’ve been.

Steve Duff, senior economist for OMAFRA provided a small insight into the current state of the economy and how it impacts agriculture.

“The Canadian dollar has been at or near its lowest point relative the US dollar since 2009,” Duff said.

Investing

Duff outlined total farm assets in 2013 at over $136 billion and broke some of it down into different categories:

  • $106 billion on land and buildings
  • $12 billion on quota
  • $7.8 billion on machinery

That’s a quick look at where the economy is in relation to agriculture. Alfons Weersink, a professor in the Department of Food, Agriculture and Resource Economics (FARE) at the University of Guelph talked about where the agricultural economy has been.

Weersink looked to the farm financial crisis as a cycle that may be ready to repeat itself.

“I think it’s a big ‘if’”, he said.

He noted that in 1960, corn prices were between $1.25 and $1.50 per bushel but in 1974 had gone up to around $4.00 per bushel.

Weersink compared it to 2006 when corn prices were around $2.00 per bushel in the fall.

“In late September, corn prices doubled in the span of six weeks and went to over $4.00 (per bushel),” Weersink said. “Unprecedented.”

Tell us your thoughts on information the speakers gave at the mini conference.


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