P.E.I. farm incomes crash in 2018

P.E.I. farm incomes fell dramatically in 2018 following a period of relative stability.

Harvesting expenses drove down net incomes

A pile of potatoes left in a field
Mud slowed the harvest not just for potatoes but for many other crops. (Submitted by Bryan Maynard)

P.E.I. farm incomes fell dramatically in 2018 following a period of relative stability.

From 2014 to 2017 farm incomes on the Island ran close to $45 million a year. The P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture credited the stability to more crop diversification.

But diversification did not save farmers from difficult conditions last year. Revenues were up a little but expenses rose dramatically, up almost $25 million to $422 million. That cut net income to just $18.3 million, down more than 60 per cent from the year before.

The biggest blow came from the harvest. Persistent rain left fields muddy and treacherous to navigate.

"That was extremely hard for potato producers, horticultural producers and grain guys," said Robert Godfrey, executive director of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture.

"I specifically mean soybeans and corn, as wear and tear on equipment would have been significant."

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The longer harvest season meant higher labour costs, and thick mud led to equipment breakdowns and costly repairs.

"Productivity was dramatically affected," said Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board.

Island farmers fared better than farmers in Nova Scotia, who also saw much higher costs in 2018. Net incomes for Nova Scotia farmers were negative for the second year in a row, with a total loss of $40 million.

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Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. Kevin has a specialty in data journalism, and how statistics relate to the changing lives of Islanders. He has a BSc and a BA from Dalhousie University, and studied journalism at Holland College in Charlottetown. You can reach him at