Farmer business confidence drops

National survey likely shows impact of trade challenges and government carbon policy

Farmers continue to be a pessimistic group, compared to other sectors of the economy.

According to the April findings from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), confidence in the agriculture sector fell 4.4 index points to 44.6, just ahead of the natural resources sector, which had the least confidence at 43.3, an increase over the previous month. The professional services sector had the highest confidence at 68.8 per cent.

Several concerns hit the agriculture sector in April, including the imposition of a carbon tax across the country for provinces that didn’t already have one and China has drastically limited its imports of some important Canadian agriculture commodities.

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In the overall economy, the CFIB index showed 39 per cent of owners say their business is in good shape, while 11 per cent say it is in bad shape. Hiring intentions are slightly improved over last month, but still not up to typical spring levels, with 19 per cent of business owners planning to hire full-time staff, while 13 per cent plan to cut back.

An index level nearer to 65 normally indicates that the economy is growing at its potential.

Nova Scotia’s confidence level of 66.7 index points remained unchanged at the top spot, followed by Quebec, which lost 1.7 index points to 63.6. Prince Edward Island also gained an index point, rising to 60.7. Despite experiencing the biggest confidence increase and rising 2 index points to 44.1, Alberta remained the least optimistic province. New Brunswick experienced the greatest confidence loss, dropping 3.1 index points to 53.5. Ontario (59.1), British Columbia (55.5), Manitoba (50.9) and Saskatchewan (50.4) all lost less than one index point over last month’s results. Newfoundland & Labrador remained weak but steady at 48.8.

April 2019 findings are based on 757 responses, collected from a stratified random sample of CFIB members, to a controlled-access web survey. Data reflect responses received through April 15. Findings are statistically accurate to +/- 3.6 per cent 19 times in 20.

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