Canadian farmers earned 31.7 per cent more in 2012 than they did the previous year, a reflection of higher prices for grains and oilseeds.

The improving picture for farmers in 2012 followed gains of 56.3 per cent in 2011 and 16.9 per cent in 2010.

Realized net income for Canadian farmers, a figure that amounts to cash receipts minus operating expenses, was $7.3 billion for 2012.

Farming has become more efficient and more profitable in Canada in the last 10 years, with new crops and better farming techniques allowing farmers to do much more than in the past. That has led to higher land prices throughout Canada.

The good news comes in a year when Canada has seen a bumper crop of most grains, including wheat, barley and canola.

But so has much of the world, with rising global production of wheat, corn and soybeans. Grain and oilseeds prices are likely to be lower than last year, which may cut into this year’s  farm incomes.

In 2012, wheat receipts, excluding durum, rose 18.4 per cent because prices were high, while soybean receipts were up 56 per cent, corn up 28 per cent and canola up 7.3 per cent because of price increases. Accelerating demand for grains from the developing world powered the higher commodity prices.

Overall, farm cash receipts rose 9.2 per cent in 2012 to $54.2 billion. The largest increases were in Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, while Saskatchewan and Alberta saw declines

Receipts for producers in the dairy, poultry and eggs, where supply is managed, increased 3.4 [er cent.

Receipts from livestock products increased 2.8 per cent in 2012 to $20.9 billion.

That sector also may come under pressure this year. The country-of-origin meat labelling laws in the U.S. may discourage U.S. slaughterhouses from buying Canadian beef cattle, as they must create different labels for Canadian-raised beef.

Already one big U.S. packer – Tyson Foods — has said it will stop buying Canadian cattle.