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Barley and Wheat Commission feeling ‘OK’ heading into the 2020 seeding

Posted on April 8, 2020 by 40 Mile Commentator

By Justin Seward


The Alberta Wheat Commission has seen farmers make some adjustments prior to the seeding season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Farms have been bringing their inputs a little earlier as well as their seed, fertilizer and chemical.

“I picked up the last of my fertilizer yesterday to put on (the) farm, so we have it on farm rather than pick it up as much as we can,” said Dave Bishop, a Commission representative out of Barons.

“We can’t do it all, but we can get a lot of it put into the farm. That’s one of the things I’m doing myself and other farmers are doing is picking our inputs up early is one thing to try and mitigate because you never know. Right now things are going OK as far as picking up our stuff but you never know tomorrow or the next day what could happen.”

Bishop says preparation during the pandemic does not change preparation for seeding because most of us (farmers) are isolated on the farm and with the workers there it’s not hard to keep everybody apart except when you need help.

The concern is what the future is going to hold.

“If stays the way it is today and we can continue doing what we’re doing I think we’ll be fine for seeding,” he said.

“But if something happens where there is an outbreak with one of our suppliers and all of sudden we can’t get our some of our inputs, that’s a worry.”

Bishop says bigger operations it is a bit of concern with them getting foreign workers.
“One of the questions is going to be will all the unemployment that is happening because people that are being laid off, are those people going to be able to work on a farm?” he said.

“There’s potentially a large labor force out there. Whether we can get them to come out to the farm and work that’s an unknown.”

Another impact that could be a worldwide issue is if the ports are shut down to global markets.

“Our only concern is our international markets. Are they still going to be open?” said Bishop.

“We ship 80 per cent of our product export. We need to have that market open for us to move our product. That’s the worry we’re having for now is what happens if the world has to shut down?”

Agriculture has been declared an essential infrastructure and it’s going to try and keep everything flowing, he added.

“It’s something that we needed to have because food is security for every country in the world,” he said.

If the situation worsens, farmers will have to store more products on the farm and will look towards government funding to keep the farms viable.


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