The News & What it Means – Drought Impact in Western Canada & Farmland Available for Free…in Yukon

By John DePutter & Dave Milne – August 1, 2017


The news:

“July is on the verge of setting a new record for dryness – and it’s showing on farmers’ fields. The Agricultural Producers of Saskatchewan (APAS) said many crops are suffering due to hot weather and a lack of moisture.”

– 980 CJME, July 28, 2017


What it means:

Almost assuredly, the abundance of hot, dry weather means lower yields, and for the unluckiest producers it may mean virtually no crops at all.


In some of the worst-hit areas, producers have seen as little as 1 inch or less of precipitation since the start of seeding. Sizzling temperatures have only added to the misery and many producers who took part in an informal DePutter crop survey this past week indicated they expect far below average crops.


One producer in southwestern Saskatchewan near the border with Montana, which is experiencing its own kind of drought hell, reported his farm has only seen one decent rain since April – about half an inch around mid-July.


In south-central Saskatchewan, another producer reported 7/10 of an inch of rainfall since the end of seeding, a sharp contrast from the 17 inches he received the previous year.


“It’s very disheartening to have too much rain last year and have basically nothing this year,” he said.


Of course, the dent in production caused by the Prairie drought will likely send some crop prices higher, but that’s of little consolation for those producers who have little or nothing to sell anyway.


Farm income likely to slide


It all adds up to the prospect of a tough year financially for many producers.


It’s worth noting that this past year, the gains in total Canadian farm income slowed appreciably, with realized net farm income up 7.6%, compared to a 10.7% rise in 2015 and a 19.3% advance in 2014. In fact, it was at least partially the good fortune of a small decline in operating expenses that managed to get Canadian net farm income into the black at all last year.


With crop receipts a cinch to take a major hit in the wake of this summer’s drought, red ink seems a good possibility.


We can’t control the weather, but the DePutter Market Advisory Service does offer suggestions and strategies to maximize profits on what you do have to sell. Want the inside track on our informal survey on Prairie production prospects? Click below to sign up.


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The news:

In Canada’s far north, the government of Yukon Territory wants to attract small farmers to the frigid region with a simple pitch: free land.

– Reuters & Alaska Dispatch News, July 26, 2017


What it means:

OK, there’s a catch. But the initiative does seems to be another sign of agriculture’s incredible ability to change and adapt.


Farmers have actually raised crops and livestock in the Yukon since way back in the late 1800s, during gold rush times. Market gardeners and small patches of land served the swollen population with root crops and berries. Oats and hay were needed for horses.


Most of the land offered free is around the capital, Whitehorse.


A 2 ½ hour drive south of Whitehorse — just across the BC border in Atlin, which itself has a gold-mining history and is more closely connected with Yukon than BC — there is a similar history of market gardening and small scale agriculture during the late 1890s and through into the 1920s. Horse grazing land and a community greenhouse can be seen there today.


A trend toward longer and warmer growing seasons has started to foster agricultural production in a number of non-traditional areas in the Yukon. Some sources say average temperatures in the Yukon have climbed by 2 degrees C in the past 50 years.


But you’d better not apply for the free land deal just on ideas of a warmer climate. It would have to get a heck of a lot warmer than it is to make largescale outdoor commercial agriculture operations work.


Besides, the catch to getting in on the free land is not only that you must cope with harsh winters and inevitable summer frosts… the land is only given to Canadians and permanent residents who’ve been living in the Yukon for more than a year. And you must farm on the gifted property at least seven years before you can sell it.


This is not a big-time giveaway, either. Only 8,000 acres of land have been gifted the past decade. You get 160 acres. Just one dozen new applications are currently under consideration.


But hey, if there is a way, you can always trust farmers to provide the will!


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