GUELPH, ON (May 20, 2020) – Grain Farmers of Ontario, the province’s largest commodity organization, representing Ontario’s 28,000 barley, corn, oat, soybean and wheat farmers urge the Canadian government to expand agricultural support and include grain farmers, in light of additional support for farmers in competing markets.
Once again, farmers in the U.S., specifically grain farmers, are receiving needed support from their government in light of COVID-19 issues and income loss that is out of their control. This continued investment in farmers gives the U.S. market the ability to withstand some of the lowest prices for grain in the last decade and places Ontario grain farmers in a disadvantaged state, competitively.
Ontario grain farmers have repeatedly not only asked government to show support through updated assurance and insurance programs, but also have invested in research and produced program templates that could be implemented quickly. These asks continue to be met with stall tactics, platitudes and loan programs, which farmers cannot afford with farm debt already on the rise, according to Statistics Canada.
“We are at a real breaking point. The federal government continues to ask farmers to bear all of the risk associated with securing Canada’s food system and takes no action to partner with us in this risk. Our farmer-members will lose money on every acre of corn, with no way to regain those losses, while our U.S. counterparts will be able to survive these losses thanks to support from their government,” said Markus Haerle, Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario.
“We have shown the government the clear indicators of coming crisis for Ontario’s grain farmers, but they continue to deny that there are struggles in this industry. The lack of support and continued oversight is frankly flabbergasting,” continued Haerle
A recent Grain Farmers of Ontario survey asked farmer-members about their operations, impacts of COVID-19 and business continuity.
- 86 per cent expect their net income to be reduced in 2020
- Over half of grain farmers are already seeing a reduction in sales and another 24 per cent 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 per cent fear that they will have an inability to cover the cost of production
Grain Farmers of Ontario has launched a campaign to get the attention of the federal government and insist that grain farmers and the issues they face are discussed and addressed. (www.grainfarmers.ca)
“Our farmer-members are proud of the work they do, rightfully, and they are not generally in favour of asking for handouts or bailouts, which is precisely why we have asked the federal and provincial governments to update the programs that guard against risk for our businesses. These are insurance programs and farmers even pay into them. Like any insurance program, they can only be accessed if they are needed. Farmers would rather not have to use the programs at all. In their current state they are unusable and unreliable,” said Haerle.