Many are wondering what sort of COVID-19 related disruptions producers are facing when it comes to spring operations on their farms.
The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) has launched a weekly survey for Saskatchewan farmers to share how COVID-19 is affecting producers at the farm gate, and the first round of the survey is complete.
The results, which include data collected from March 24 to April 5 from over 250 Saskatchewan farmers, suggest that over 70 per cent of survey respondents say they expect the crisis to result in reduced commodity prices, lower revenue, and reduced cash flow. Close to half expect they may not be able to pay their bills. 53 per cent of respondents indicated that cash flow was an immediate financial need for their operation.
“Farmers need cash to be able to get their crop in the ground this spring, and after the brutal last couple of years we’ve dealt with, reduced cash flow could really break people,” says farmer and APAS president Todd Lewis. “So far, the government’s COVID-19 support to farmers has been to increase our access to loans, but going into even more debt isn’t the answer. Just look south of the border, where agriculture has received huge subsidies for years. Canadian farmers can’t compete with that, especially not during a global crisis like this. If agriculture is essential for the Canadian economy, it’s time for governments to directly invest in our farmers.”
Lewis also adds Saskatchewan farmers are indicating access to farm inputs like fuel, fertilizer, veterinary services, and seed are already being disrupted.
Producers also reported an average stress level of 6.3, with the lowest reported stress level being one and the highest reported stress level being 10. Five per cent reported a stress level of 10. Although a number of producers indicated significant stress, others noted that social isolation is in some ways easier for them as they are accustomed to working alone.
Lewis says that as COVID-19 continues to evolve, and rapidly, for that matter, more data is needed.
“We want to collect real-time data from farmers that we can share directly with the government on an ongoing basis,” he explains. “We’ve updated the survey with new questions and will continue to do so weekly. We know that the situation is going to change significantly over time, so we’re asking farmers to complete the survey every week.”
Next week’s survey will include questions about unharvested 2019 acres. To participate in the survey, or to check out the full results, click here.