| WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA, Sept 6
WINNIPEG, Manitoba/OTTAWA, Sept 6 Statistics
Canada may scrap one of its annual farmer surveys on crop yields
in favor of a report that uses satellite data to estimate
Statscan, the national statistical agency, said the
satellite data was producing increasingly similar results to its
September farmer survey on yields of wheat, canola and other
crops, and the change would help meet cost-cutting goals.
"We've been comparing (satellite data) over the last couple
of years and they're getting quite close to what we release in
September estimates," said Yves Gilbert, head of Statscan's
field crop reporting unit.
The agency's Crop Condition Assessment Program has typically
released data on vegetation conditions on a weekly basis late in
the growing season.
Axing the September farmer survey would be the latest in a
series of changes to how the Canadian government calculates data
for the agricultural sector in Canada, which is the world's
biggest canola grower and No. 6 wheat producer.
It would also save C$50,000 to C$75,000 ($48,000 to $72,000)
per year, and relieve farmers of the hassle of dealing with
Statscan phone calls during harvest, Gilbert said.
But Derek Squair, whose company Agri-Trend Marketing helps
farmers decide when and where to sell their crops, said
switching to a less-trusted source of information on supplies
will make it harder for farmers to market their crops.
"To the producer, it should be a concern. That data is
pretty important," he said.
Statscan is currently conducting this year's September
survey and will release the data in its Oct. 4 yield and
The agency would drop the September survey starting next
year, but would keep two other crop production reports that are
based on farmer surveys, Gilbert said.
Statscan has already cut some lower-profile
agriculture-related reports on hogs and fruits and vegetables.
The government said last year that it planned to cut
Statistics Canada's budget by 7 percent as of 2014-15 as it
seeks to balance the federal budget. Chief Statistician Wayne
Smith said the cutbacks meant the volume and detail of
information available would be "sharply reduced."
The government foresees a federal deficit of C$18.7 billion
in the 2013-14 fiscal year, dropping to C$6.6 billion next year,
and a return to a small surplus the year after that.
The grain industry is also adjusting to changes to another
widely watched government source of crop information - the Grain
Statistics Weekly publication from the Canadian Grain
Some grain analysts expressed concern when the nonprofit
Canadian Ports Clearance Association wound down last year,
marking the end of its regular freight reports. They said loss
of these reports made grain movement less transparent.
(Editing by Janet Guttsmanm and Jim Marshall)