News Release Archive

Nova Scotia farm receipts in 1996 are estimated to have surpassed
$355 million - achieving a new historic cash high for the
provincial industry. In 1995 farm cash receipts were $328.7
million. The industry's advance was led by fur, hogs and poultry
sectors. Production was higher for all of these commodities and
stronger markets also prevailed. While the lowbush blueberry crop
was slightly smaller, record high prices, averaging 70›/lb.
boosted receipts for blueberry growers to over $20 million and
this sector was a major contributor to the agricultural
industry's gains as well. Farm product prices on average were
about 5 per cent higher in 1996.

On the expense side, farms encountered the most sizeable cost
increases seen in a number of years. Feed prices were typically
25 - 30 per cent or about $70 - 80 per tonne higher. Spring
fertilizer prices were up by 11 per cent and fuel and pesticide
prices were also higher. Overall farm input prices increased by
about 6 - 7 per cent and farm operating expenditures are
projected to have increased from an estimated $276 million in
1995 to over $300 million. Across the industry, farm bottom-line
returns appears to have been similar to the year before. However,
the situations at the individual commodity sector level, varied
considerably. While commodity markets were favourable in cases
such as fur, hogs, blueberries and grain, returns were down for
cattle producers and some other sectors.

Agriculture and Marketing Minister Guy Brown said that while
projected 1996 realized returns are in total at the 1995 level
that these farm earnings are from a higher output level. Per unit
returns consequently were somewhat lower. He said that this made
1996 a very typical year with regard to the long term trend of
narrower operating margins within agriculture.

"The most important role of my department is to work with the
industry to ensure that agriculture in Nova Scotia keeps up with
the latest technical advances to lower costs and remain
competitive," said Mr. Brown.

He said that all of us have an important job to do and that is to
buy locally-produced products. "If we ask for our products every
time we go into the stores we are helping farmers and the economy
of Nova Scotia and keeping jobs here."

The 1996 growing season was characterized by cool wet periods
which reduced some crops, including potatoes and blueberries.
Apple production, at an estimated 2.4 million bushels, was 13 per
cent below the five-year average crop size. Heat sensitive
vegetable crops such as peppers and tomatoes were down but
overall field vegetable receipts were probably similar to 1995,
with increased onion production and better cabbage prices.
Statistics Canada has estimated the 1996 provincial grain crop at
54,000 tonnes up from 45,000 tonnes in 1995. Barley accounted for
almost half of this tonnage and wheat another fifth of the
overall grain crop, including approximately 3,500 tonnes of
milling wheat.

The least favourable economic conditions for a major sector were
experienced by cattle producers. The North American beef market
has been in a cyclical low period for the past eighteen months.
Sales revenue from cattle and calves in 1995 were estimated at
$29.4 million, down from $30.8 million in 1994. Cattle sales in
1996 were likely in the $26 - $27 million range, depending upon
the extent of herd reductions. At mid-year the province's cattle
herd, excluding dairy animals, was estimated at 73,000 head
including 28,000 beef cows. Lower slaughter cattle prices and
higher feed cost were both adverse for feeder cattle prices
throughout the year. Feeder sale prices in Nova Scotia averaged
68 cents per pound last fall compared with 82 cents per pound in
1995 and a previous, 1990-94, five year average of 96 cents per

Milk shipments at approximately 167 million litres were down 2
per cent for the calendar year. Gross dairy revenues to farms
were about $93.3 million. At the beginning of the 1996-97 dairy
year, Aug. 1, Nova Scotia entered into the "P-6" Pool with five
other eastern provinces. The provincial industry realized a 1.3
per cent across the board quota increase in October as part of
the package of changes. An inter-provincial quota exchange with
Quebec has also been implemented and to date Nova Scotia has
gained production quota from this mechanism. Another part of the
new system involves the change to end-use pricing on a milk
component basis.

Farm feed expenditures were about $92 million compared to an
estimated $70.5 million in 1995. The surge in feed prices in 1996
was to a degree related to the termination of feed freight
assistance at the beginning of the year but global grain markets
were a much larger element. With good 1996 North American grain
harvests, prices for feed grains have moderated. Currently, feed
prices are about 5 per cent below the levels of a year ago.
Livestock and poultry feeders in Nova Scotia are receiving $9.5
million in federal transition payments to help adjust to the loss
of feed freight assistance. Falling interest rates in 1996 were a
positive development that likely shaved close to $2 million off 
interest expenses last year. The lower rates are expected to
prevail in 1997 and will be of most benefit to farm enterprises
that market most of their production on an annual basis. In 1995,
farms in Nova Scotia incurred interest charges of $22.5 million.


Contact: Susan Horne  902-424-5719

trp                       Mar. 14, 1997 - 9:45 a.m.