GUELPH, ON (May 12, 2020) – Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers today unveils the findings of its most recent survey, which showed great concern for the viability of today’s grain farms without proper support programs in place from the federal and provincial governments.
“Grain farmers in Ontario have made it very clear that the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of realistic government support are putting farms at risk with 61 percent telling us that they are concerned about their business’s ability to survive this downturn. Grain farming is fundamental to our food system and our economy. Keeping this industry stable must be a priority for our governments, and we are shocked at how little acknowledgement the importance of grain farming has been given,” said Markus Haerle, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario.
Some important highlights from the survey:
- 86 percent expect their net income to be reduced in 2020
- Over half of grain farmers are already seeing a reduction in sales and another 24 percent are experiencing cancellation or delays of existing contracts
- One third are experiencing cashflow and another third expect cash flow issues in the near future
- 55 percent fear that they will have an inability to cover the cost of production
- 77 percent of grain farmers want to see government support equivalent to what the US is giving its farmers.
Grain Farmers of Ontario has launched an ad campaign (www.grainfarmers.ca) to remind the federal government of the impact that grain farmers have and what the loss of those farms could mean to the country. Grain farming in Ontario alone contributes to 75,000 jobs and $18 billion in economic output.
“It is easy for people to forget that the flour that is missing from grocery shelves started in a wheat field; that the nutrient-rich food we give to animals starts in a soybean or corn field. Where will we get bread, oatmeal, crackers, pet food, and the thousands of items in the grocery store that are made with grains if the viability of family farms is threatened?” Haerle asked.
The federal government has a suite of programs that need to be updated to help see farmers through this crisis. The programs are assurance programs and not bailouts. Grain Farmers of Ontario continues to request that the federal government inject farmers AgriInvest accounts with five per cent of net sales and to fund AgriStability (a program farmers pay into) to 85 per cent; and that the provincial government fully fund its assurance program for farmers.
Instead, the federal government announced $252 million in funding directed to food processors, beef, pork, and dairy farmers, leaving out the vast majority of agriculture, including grain farmers