On-farm grain stocks higher, says StatsCan report

Rail delays this winter and unfavourable market conditions are said to be the factors behind the higher stocks

Stocks of major crops in storage on prairie farms stood at nearly 29 million tonnes as of March 31, according to Statistics Canada’s Stocks of Grain and Oilseeds report, released May 11.

That number included nearly 4.8 million tonnes in storage on Manitoba farms, 14.1 million tonnes in Saskatchewan and 10.2 million tonnes in Alberta.

By comparison, total on-farm prairie stocks a year earlier — as of March 31, 2017 — were listed at 27.6 million tonnes.

Factors contributing to the increase in farm stocks this year include seasonal rail delays this past winter and unfavourable market conditions that affected deliveries and exports of peas, lentils and durum, according to analysts.

The Statistics Canada report includes data for barley, canola, grain corn, flax, lentils, oats, peas, rye, soybeans, durum wheat and non-durum wheat.

Statistics Canada analyst Omar Youssouf said the agency is confident in the accuracy of the numbers in its March 31 stocks report.

However, he acknowledged that the methods used to collect agricultural numbers may differ from methods used by the trade.

Data in the Statistics Canada’s Stocks of Grain and Oilseeds report are collected through a series of surveys with farmers across Canada.

The data collected is verified and cross referenced with other data sets collected by Statistics Canada, including annual field crop production estimates, export statistics and supply and disposition data that’s collected in March, July and December.

“(For this report) we surveyed about 11,600 farmers across the nation,” Youssouf said.

“Our survey started about March 2 and ended about March 29. The majority of our sample size comes from the Prairies, just because there’s a lot more respondents there and the agriculture industry is very predominant on the Prairies.…

“So we do put more importance on (the Prairies) … (and) we incorporate a lot of referential sources in order to make sure the stocks (data is accurate).”

According to the report, remaining wheat and barley stocks on prairie farms were slightly lower as of March 31 than they were a year earlier.

However, stocks of canola, lentils, peas, and oats were all higher.

Wheat stocks on prairie farms, including durum, stood at 11.9 million tonnes this year, compared to 12.0 million tonnes a year earlier.

Remaining on-farm barley stocks were pegged at 2.9 million tonnes this year, compared to nearly 4.1 million tonnes in 2017.

Canola stocks on prairie farms stood at 7.5 million tonnes this year, compared to 6.4 million tonnes a year earlier.

Stocks of lentils were pegged at 1.4 million tonnes, compared to 965,000 tonnes in 2017.

Peas stocks were estimated at 1.5 million tonnes, compared with 1.2 million tonnes in 2017, and remaining oat stocks were listed at 1.8 million tonnes, compared to 1.4 million tonnes a year earlier.

Youssouf said Statistics Canada is aware that its reporting methods have come under scrutiny recently.

Industry analysts often question the accuracy of Statistics Canada data sets that are derived through producer surveys.

They contend that farmers may be inclined to exaggerate or under-report their numbers in order to influence market prices.

Youssouf said Statistics Canada’s figures may differ from estimates generated by the trade.

“We are simply outputting what respondents have reported to us,” said Youssouf.

“We try our best not to mind much what the trade is expecting, just because there is a difference in methodology between how the trade is calculating its expectations versus how we are calculating out numbers.”

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