GUELPH, ON (May 1, 2020) – Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers are worried about the tremendous risk from the pandemic on farms and farm families across the province.
Grain Farmers of Ontario have been significantly impacted by the economic conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, according to the preliminary results from a survey conducted this week with grain and oilseed farmers from across Ontario, two thirds of Ontario grain and oilseed farmers are concerned about their farms ability to survive this downturn.
More than half of all farmers surveyed are worried they will not be able to cover their 2020 planting costs. A remarkable 90 percent of Ontario grain farmers expect their net income will be reduced in 2020.
“I do not think the public, or the government, fully comprehend the impact of COVID-19 on grain farmers. Shutdowns at processing plants, decreased demand from a suffering retail sector, stalled markets and customers deferring contracts until who-knows-when are putting our industry in jeopardy,” said Markus Haerle, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario.
“Ontario grain farmers are taking tremendous risks to put a crop in the ground this year, and if they don’t receive support or see a dramatic turnaround, their farms may not survive, and that’s everyone’s food supply that will suddenly be in danger,” Haerle said.
Grain demand is decreasing more dramatically than anyone could have anticipated due the pandemic, and prices for Ontario grain commodities are in decline. Grain Farmers of Ontario is estimating losses to net income of $135 per acre for corn and $20 per acre to net income for soybeans based on current prices. Additionally, the Futures Prices are depressed and grain farmers could see revenue losses of $550 million if there is not a rebound to pre covid-19 levels.
Grain Farmers of Ontario is asking governments to improve the programs put in place to help farmers if their businesses are in a loss position because of this pandemic, the response to it, and the recovery plans.
The survey was conducted the last week of April 2020 and first week of May, results reported are preliminary. •