Commercial Stocks of the Major Special Crops Survey (CSMS)

Detailed information for December 31, 2008




3 times per year

Record number:


The purpose of this survey is to collect reliable and timely information on stocks of special crops held in commercial elevators.

Data release - February 5, 2009


Results from this survey are used to validate crop production such as farm stock and marketing data, and calculate the contribution of the special crops sector to the Canadian economy.

The Canadian Special Crops Association, Pulse Canada and federal and provincial governments, such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, use this information for establishing programs and policies. The information provided may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

Reference period: December 31, March 31 and July 31

Collection period: Collected during the two weeks following the reference period.


  • Agriculture and food (formerly Agriculture)
  • Crops and horticulture

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Grain companies, processors, and exporters with stocks of special crops in Canada are the target population of this survey.

This is a census of all known special crop companies that maintain stocks. It excludes special crop dealers with no storage facilities and companies that maintain stocks in US positions only. There are approximately 52 units surveyed.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was designed using Statistics Canada questionnaire design standards in consultation with industry experts. The questionnaire is subject to regular revision to reflect changes in business activities.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore, no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2008-12-15 to 2009-01-29

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Data are collected electronically, while providing respondents with the option of a mail-out / mail-back process. Follow-up procedures are applied when a questionnaire has not been received after a pre-specified period of time; respondents are phoned or sent a facsimile to remind them to send their questionnaire.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

The data for each company are verified by comparison to previous reports, by comparing trends between companies, by supply-disposition analysis and by monitoring of industry trends.


There is little imputation as the response rate is high. Imputation for non-response is based on a combination of previous reports, supply-disposition trends or information from industry sources.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

Supply and disposition trends, used by government and industry stakeholders, help to confirm the results of the survey. Where anomalies occur they are resolved through analysis at year-end. As well, detailed reporting instructions for respondents serve to enhance data quality.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

There is no seasonal adjustment. Data from previous years may be revised based on updated information. The survey data are not benchmarked.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of non-sampling error. Examples of non-sampling error are coverage error, data response error, non-response error and processing error.

Coverage error can result from incomplete listing and inadequate coverage of the population. This industry is relatively new and there have been many changes to the universe. However, a wide variety of sources are used to regularly update the universe including member lists from the Canadian Special Crop Association, licensees of the Canadian Grain Commission and lists of special crop exporters and marketers compiled by provincial governments and others. Press clippings are also monitored daily. Since relatively few companies make up the majority of the stocks, it is generally believed that any under coverage would be small.

Data response error may be due to questionnaire design, the characteristics of a question, inability or unwillingness of the respondent to provide correct information, misinterpretation of the questions or definitional problems. These errors are controlled through careful questionnaire design and the use of simple concepts and consistency checks. However, the respondents have been changing quickly due to company amalgamations and bankruptcies and some lack the background to ensure consistency. Therefore, the survey analysts are conscious of the need to monitor reporting and to discuss any anomalies with the companies in question.

Non-response error is related to respondents that may refuse to answer, are unable to respond or are too late in reporting. In these cases, data are imputed. This is considered to be the most likely source of any error for this survey. The extent of any imputation error decreases with increases in the response rate and attempts are therefore made to obtain as high a response rate as possible while minimizing the response burden. Analysts liaise with the companies and the related industry associations to maintain the high response rate of approximately 95% for the whole survey. The response may be less for individual commodities.

Processing error may occur at various stages of processing such as in data entry and tabulation. Measures have been taken to minimize these errors. Only a few trained staff work on this survey. Edits in the electronic reporting system prevent the entry of outliers by respondents. The spreadsheets used for data entry and tabulation of both the electronically reported data and the data reported on paper permit the analysts to quickly detect apparent anomalies. It is considered that processing errors are minimal.

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