Thank you very much.
It's good to have the department here so we can ask a few other questions and perhaps look through a few different things that we didn't have a chance to speak to the minister about.
A Statistics Canada report just came out a couple of days ago. We often hear glowing things about how the Barton report is going to make it so that agri-food exports reach $75 billion, and how great that is going to be for agriculture. There is always a lot of money in farming, but it doesn't necessarily get to the farmer. I think that's really the critical part because, according to the report by Statistics Canada, the realized net farm income of ag producers fell 45% in 2018, which followed a 2.8% decline in 2017. That's been the largest percentage decrease since 2006.
It takes into account inventory, pricing and volume and so on, but one of the key things is the increases in costs for farmers. There are rising feed costs, and interest and labour costs and new regulations that we see being added to small business. We also see changes as far as taxation is concerned. Of course, we see the one that I tend to talk about a lot, which is the carbon tax.
The costs associated with this continually add up. Prices go up for the farmer; income goes down for the farmer. The comment was made earlier about climate change. Producers are the first ones to recognize climate change, but they're also the first to speak out against a carbon tax as a solution for that. There is a need for real solutions. The knee-jerk things that we do.... Of course, that was done when we thought the U.S. was going to be engaged in some sort of North American carbon pricing, so the way in which we were trading around the world would have something like that included in it. We also saw countries that were our competitors, like Australia, saying that they'll give it a try. It didn't take long for them to make that change.
Here we have farmers who recognize that yes, there may be some great ideas as to how they can expand, but they aren't going to be the ones to benefit from this unless we can find a way to look at the cost side of this as well.
Perhaps, Mr. Forbes, you could speak to some of the things your department sees as concerns as far as the cost side for our agricultural producers is concerned.