Nova Scotia

N.S. soybean exports almost double in two years

Halifax Grain Elevator says soybean exports have increased because farmers are producing significant quantities to satisfy the demand of large ships en route to export markets in Europe, Africa and Asia.

Water levels in St. Lawrence River help boost N.S. industry

The Nova Scotia soybean industry has benefitted as container ships have stopped in Halifax to top up their cargo. (CBC)

A golden-coloured soybean is proving to be the golden ticket for farmers and exporters in Nova Scotia.

Halifax Grain Elevator said the soybean industry, and its grain exports, have once again grown this year.

Jeff Brownlie, manager at the company, said one reason soybean exports have increased is that farmers are producing significant quantities to satisfy the demand of large ships en route to export markets in Europe, Africa and Asia.

"The soybean acres have been steadily increasing. So now they certainly have enough tonnage to top off vessels in Halifax," Brownlie said.

Statistics from Halifax Grain Elevator show that over the past few years the province's soybean and wheat exports have steadily increased:

  • 2010: 15,500 metric tons of soybean and 26,000 metric tons of wheat shipped
  • 2011: 21,000 metric tons of soybean and 56,000 metric tons of wheat shipped
  • 2012: 27,000 metric tons of soybean and 24,000 metric tons of wheat shipped

Exports are expected to surge even further in 2013. The company expects to export 28,000 metric tons of soybeans and 108,000 metric tons of wheat.

Low water levels boost industry

Soybean exports are also up because water levels in the St. Lawrence River have declined over the last few months due to record low snow falls.

The shallow waters have forced container ships to only fill their ships partially with cargo, and stop in ports such as Halifax to top up on grains.

"They can't load a full Panamax Vessel in Hamilton," said Brownlie. "The owner, of course, wants his vessel full. So certainly Halifax is an attractive location to do these to offs."

But it's not all good news for the city's grain elevator, Brownlie said.

Overall total shipments, that include grain, animal feed and milling wheat, have declined over the last few years. Total shipments this year stand at 180,000 metric tons, down from 265,000 metric tons from 2011.

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