Farm Credit Canada (FCC) reported strong financial performance last year, demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of the Canadian agriculture and food industry during a challenging time.

“In a year filled with so much uncertainty, FCC was able to serve the agriculture and food industry as it stepped up to overcome many challenges,” said FCC president and CEO Michael Hoffort, in releasing the federal Crown corporation’s annual report.

In 2020-21, FCC grew its portfolio by 7.6 per cent to $41.5 billion. The portfolio included payment schedule adjustments to 14.8 per cent of the total value of outstanding loans compared to nine per cent in the previous year. This increase was primarily due to pandemic-related support. Since deferring, 98 per cent of customers have returned to regular payments.

“FCC continues to be in a strong financial position to support those in Canada’s agriculture and food industry,” Hoffort said. “In the early stages of the pandemic, FCC collaborated with the federal government to provide working capital relief and additional lending for the industry and our customers.”

“We continue to respond to the needs of the industry,” Hoffort added. “We are currently offering support to customers whose operations are impacted by the extreme heat and dry conditions in western Canada. We stand with our customers during these and other challenges.”

From March 2020 to the end of this fiscal year, more than 4,900 customers used payment deferral options on loans totalling $5.6 billion. Over the same period, more than 1,800 customers were approved for COVID-19 FCC Credit Lines. As the year progressed, operations and businesses adapted resulting in a decline in requests for COVID-19 loan products.

“Canadian farmers and agri-food businesses have shown incredible resilience through what has been a year filled with great challenges, but also great successes. When the pandemic hit, our government moved quickly to boost FCC’s lending capacity so that farmers and food businesses were supported as they headed into stormy waters,”said Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.¬†“The strong performance of the sector last year is reflected in FCC’s outstanding results. FCC is a key partner in supporting our government’s mandate to increase exports, job creation and innovation in Canada.”

“Canadian food exports increased by more than 10 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year, getting us closer to our government’s target of $75 billion in exports by 2025. Not only is the increase good for farmers, but the results are also positive for Canadians as exports drive one in five jobs in this country.” Bibeau added.

As part of FCC’s purpose to enhance rural Canada, the self-sustaining Crown corporation continues to invest in communities across the country. In 2020-21, FCC contributed $1.5 million to 92 community projects. FCC’s annual Drive Away Hunger food drive also provided over 17 million meals for food banks and feeding programs nationwide – another record-breaking year despite disruptions caused by the global pandemic. FCC contributed to Ag in the Classroom, local clubs under 4-H Canada and promoted farm safety through the Canadian Agriculture Safety Association and support of STARS air ambulance service.

“A year marked by COVID-19 highlighted the importance of something that has always mattered to us: giving back to the communities where we live and work,” Hoffort said. “Looking ahead, there is a lot of important work to do as we grow the next generation of producers, support sustainability and promote a more inclusive industry, including the delivery of our Indigenous lending strategy.”