Letters to the editor – June 7, 2018

StatsCan accurate on seeding intentions

Re: “Statistics Canada’s credibility is on the line,” column by Kevin Hursh (WP, May 10). Further to your article, Statistics Canada’s credibility is on the line, we would like to set the record straight. The Agency’s field crop reporting statistics are in fact an accurate reflection of seeding intentions.

We collect crop data several times during the year. The first survey is collected in March, when no seeding has been completed and there is often still snow on the ground. In June, once fields are actually seeded, we ask farmers the same questions again. Last year, the June data confirmed the accuracy of the March survey.

In 2017, the five major crops seeded were wheat, canola, barley, lentils and corn for grain. When one compares the data from the March survey with those for June, the variation for all crops was five per cent or less. For canola, it was two per cent.

We would not be able to produce accurate statistics on field crops without the data provided by farmers. We recognize their commitment of time to complete surveys and treat the data received with the utmost of care. In turn, we provide the crop data back to farmers and other data users as soon as the data can be validated and analyzed. These steps take time, but are absolutely required to ensure farmers’ answers are reflected properly.

Certain grain industry stakeholders have indicated they want to know the very final crop estimates as early as March in the growing season. Although releasing the “exact” figures so early in the growing season would be ideal for the market, it is just not possible because many factors (price fluctuations, climatic growing conditions, etc.) influence the estimates throughout the year, until harvests are completed later in the fall. This is precisely the reason why we conduct more than one survey through the year, to provide the industry with crop metrics updates at key times.

We thank you for bringing this information to the attention of your readers.

Etienne Saint-Pierre
Director, Agriculture Division
Statistics Canada

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