Today we look at some of the most recent DTN 360 Polls and how readers have responded.
FARM LABOUR AVAILABILITY
One of the most recent polls focused on the availability of farm labour. The question asked:
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business January Business Barometer indicated that a shortage of skilled labour is the largest concern facing farmers across the country. Do you believe this is a factor limiting growth in your operation?
Responses were split. Forty percent of responses indicated that it was difficult to attract people to work on the farm, while 45% answered that the slowing economy has made it easier to attract farm workers. Responses came from four provinces: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. While most responses were split evenly between the two choices discussed above in Manitoba and Ontario, responses in Alberta favored choice 2, suggesting the slowing economy has made it easier to attract labour, while Saskatchewan responses tended to favour choice 1, suggesting it is still difficult to attract farm labour in the province.
The next question asked:
Which crop are you most likely to forward price prior to 2016 harvest?
The largest response for this question, or roughly one-third of them all, suggested that producers were pre-pricing several crops for fall 2016 delivery while concerned about downside risk. The next largest response -- 25% -- was focused on pre-pricing oilseeds, given current prospects for a record South American harvest and a potential expansion of soybean acres in the United States. Roughly 16% of respondents said they do not forward price production.
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Given the significant expansion of pulse acres expected on the Prairies, a total of 9% of responses chose the option which indicated they were most likely to pre-price pulse production, although it is clear that concerns of downside price moves exist across all crops.
FINES FOR THE RAILROADS
The following week's question asked:
The Canadian government has announced fines for both CN and CP Rail for exceeding 2014/15 revenue caps in moving western grain. Is this initiative effective?
Responses to this question ranged across four of the six choices available for this poll, indicating the wide range of opinions seen in this debate. A total of 48% of respondents said the policy is an effective solution, while 52% selected the choice of the policy being ineffective.
The largest response, 30%, suggested that this policy is effective, as removal of the revenue cap would lead to much higher freight rates. The next highest response suggested the policy is not effective, with other measures such as increased competition should be targeted to control rates, which garnered 29% of responses. A further 23% of responses were also against the policy, voting for the poll answer that the initiative acts as a disincentive for railways to add capacity and increase efficiencies. The rest of the responses were in favor of the policy, but said that the government could do even more to control railways.
As expected, only prairie province responses were seen in this poll. Manitoba and Alberta responses tended to lean towards choice 3, saying the revenue cap is ineffective and they'd prefer to see other means such as increased competition used to control railroad profits. The majority of responses in Saskatchewan were evenly split between concerns that removal of the cap would lead to higher freight rates and the choice that said the current policy acts as a disincentive for added capacity and increased efficiencies.
The last and final question is as follows:
What do you expect will be your biggest challenge in 2016?
The largest amount, 37% of respondents, said it was the ability to control costs. A further 54% of respondents were split evenly between the impact of low commodity prices and the impact of government policy.
A majority of Manitoba producers showed concern surrounding controlling costs in the upcoming year, while a majority of Alberta producers showed concern surrounding government policy impacts. Saskatchewan responses were more evenly split between concerns of controlling costs, lower commodity prices and government policy impacts.
DTN would like to thank everyone for their participation in past and future polls. This week's poll asks:
Given current market signals, how do you see the mix of corn and soybean acres changing in 2016 on your farm or in your area? You can weigh in with your thoughts on this week's poll, found on the lower right corner of the DTN Home Page.
Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
Follow Cliff Jamieson on Twitter @CliffJamieson
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