Farm equity growth slows in 2018

Debt-to-asset ratio highest since 2011

saskatchewan green lentils
A green lentil crop in southeastern Saskatchewan on May 31, 2019. (Leeann Minogue photo)

MarketsFarm — Equity in Canada’s farm sector increased by 3.6 per cent in 2018, hitting $522.2 billion, according to a report Thursday from Statistics Canada.

The growth was well below the 6.4 per cent increase reported the previous year, and continued a trend of slower growth since 2013.

Realized net farm income was down by 45.1 per cent on the year, the report noted.

Equity was up in eight provinces, with New Brunswick unchanged and Nova Scotia down 4.3 per cent.

Total farm assets increased by 4.4 per cent in 2018, to $623 billion, due largely to a 6.1 per cent increase in farmland values. However, the value of inventories declined by 3.2 per cent during the year which partially offset the farmland value increase.

Lentils in Saskatchewan and peas in Alberta were down by 24.2 per cent and 27.8 per cent respectively, accounting for much of the decline. Import duties imposed by India were cited as a main reason for the losses.

Total liabilities in the farm sector rose by 8.7 per cent in 2018, hitting $100.8 billion, according to the report. The debt-to-asset ratio increased to 16.2 per cent, from 15.5 per cent in 2017, hitting its highest mark since 2011.

The interest coverage ratio, which measures the ability of the farm business to meet its interest payments (net income, before interest and taxes, divided by interest expenses), fell to 2.4 in 2018 from 4.1 a year earlier, which was its lowest value since 2007, according to the report.

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