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Navigating 2024's Economic Landscape - Key Insights for Canadian Agriculture

By Jean-Paul McDonald
Farms.com

In 2024, Canadian agriculture faces a unique economic landscape marked by consumption slowdowns and inflationary pressures.  

According to Farm Credit Canada, Economics, the year will show a second consecutive year of modest growth due to the ripple effects of previous interest rate hikes. This is evident in sectors like consumption spending and debt servicing, crucial for nearly 60% of the GDP. 

Canadian consumers under pressure 

Canadian consumers under pressure 

The agricultural sector, however, shows resilience and adaptability. In crops, a notable achievement is the record-breaking canola crushing in the first quarter of the 2023/24 marketing year. Despite challenges like rising construction costs and tight supplies, the sector's capacity expansion indicates a potential shift in crop cultivation preferences, influenced by the global soybean-corn futures ratio. 

Canola crush in first quarter of marketing year (Aug-Sep-Oct) 

Canola crush in first quarter of marketing year (Aug-Sep-Oct) 

The livestock domain presents a mixed picture. The North American beef herd is expected to shrink due to past droughts and economic pressures, necessitating a multiyear rebuilding process. On the other hand, the dairy sector seems poised for a rebound with lower feed costs, promising improved profitability compared to previous years. 

North American heifer and cow slaughter near decade high

North American heifer and cow slaughter near decade high

 

Dairy feed cost index declined in latter half of  2023
as US corn prices retreated
 

Dairy feed cost index declined in latter half of 2023 as US corn prices retreated

                                       

Farm equipment sales might face a downturn, influenced by high borrowing costs and a recent history of supply chain disruptions. While supply issues are being resolved, the industry must adapt to changing economic conditions and farmer purchasing behaviors. 

Farm equipment sales are projected to slow in 2024 

Farm equipment sales are projected to slow in 2024

In terms of farm inputs, fertilizer affordability is a key area to watch. The fertilizer affordability index shows improvement, indicating a potential increase in crop profitability for the coming year. This is especially relevant for major crops like spring wheat, canola, and corn. 

Fertilizer affordability index 

Fertilizer affordability index

Canadian agriculture in 2024 is a landscape of challenges and opportunities. From economic headwinds affecting consumption and inflation to sector-specific trends in crops, livestock, and farm equipment, stakeholders need to navigate these dynamics carefully to ensure sustainable growth and profitability. 


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