Prairies have long been a major bread-basket for the world, mainly known for its exports of wheat, durum, barley and oat. In the last few decades it has gone through another renaissance to become a highly market-driven agricultural economy driven by persistent deregulation and privatization efforts. In the process the region achieved notable yield-increases, with exports increasing significantly in volume and even more in value as a result of diversifying first to canola and later pulses. Now it is at the cusp of another wave of diversification to more specialty crop varieties.
A natural outcome of market-liberalization was farm-consolidation, which in turn facilitated a huge leap forward in farming-methods and technology-applications. In the regulated era farm-sizes were quite modest and uniform, typically measured in a few thousand acres. Now most of the advanced farms are tens-of-thousands of acres, sectionalized to grow multiple crops, with capacity to diversify even further to grow specialty grades and types of the region’s staple-crops as well as new strains or varieties that are in demand in global markets -- be it in grains, oil-seeds or pulses.
With land acquisitions from one end and technology purchases from the other, farmers, at least successful ones among them, managed to shoulder the bulk of the investment burden by increasing their yields, upholding the region’s family-farming traditions -- albeit with the help of regulations to keep corporate-farming at bay. Still, the farm-economy’s debt-load increased, putting pressure on all producers to look for opportunities to diversify to higher-value crops that could be sold to world markets outside the net of bulk-trades in the control of corporate-giants.
Thus, the producers are highly motivated to diversify to high-value crops and sell through direct-channels. They are not only blessed with favorable soil-and-climatic conditions but also have the knowhow with advanced science-and-technology at their disposal to grow a huge variety of crops to highest quality standards. We know the world has plenty of enlightened buyers looking for specific types and grades of quality crops to meet their particular needs and requirements -- our mission is to present the capacity of the Prairies, and connect them with the region’s producers.
Farm Consolidation Trends:
Changes in farm-size distribution by Province
We are currently compiling a database on farm-sizes across the Prairies, and hope to publish a report on the topic by the end of Q1 2022. There have been attempts to document these trends, of great significance to the Prairie grain-economy, but there is a pressing need for a comprehensive source that not only documents what has happened over the last three decades, but also looks into the future.
State of Prairie Farm Finances:
Revenue, Cost and Investment Trends
As we discussed in one of our featured articles (see our landing-page) the Prairie farmers have accumulated considerable debt that they have difficulty paying down as they face a revenue-squeeze in today's bulk-trading environment. It is important to come to terms with these realities, and embrace the specialization-imperative -- clearest path to financial-stability and future-prosperity.