Editor’s Column: Agriculture rises to the occasion for COVID-19

As our April 7 issue of Grainews went to press, there were more than 2,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, about 17 times that number in the United States and upwards of 330,000 worldwide. In a matter of weeks, the way we conduct business and our daily lives has been altered dramatically, as it has for many around the world. Global, national and provincial conditions change by the hour. It is all too easy to get caught up in the fear and anxiety surrounding this unfolding situation.

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It’s time to take a collective deep breath.

No matter what is going on in the world — and there is a lot, and most of it is out of our control — crops still need to be planted this spring. For this reason, Grainews will continue to focus on livestock and crop production to support your efforts to reach your production goals in 2020. As of press time today, farmers are in a good position to get their crops planted on time.

The transportation and delivery of crop inputs, such as seed, fertilizer and crop protection products, continues without issues. The members of the Western Grain Elevator Association are doing everything they can to keep the grain supply chain working. Grain elevator companies are putting policies in place to ensure operations continue running and the supply chain moving, while keeping employees and customers safe. Grain deliveries to country elevators are also continuing without disruptions. The movement of Prairie grains and oilseeds within the country and for export continues without obstruction. There are no reported issues from CN and CP at this time. Bulk grain is also moving at the Port of Vancouver.

The Canadian government has identified agriculture as an essential resource and recognizes the importance of keeping the food system and supply chains functioning. It is also working to respond quickly to farmers’ needs. For example, the government has ensured the U.S.-Canada border remain open to trade, commerce and to maintain supply lines, including the movement of products and fertilizer needed for spring seeding. Equally important for some farmers is the admittance of temporary foreign workers and seasonal agricultural workers to Canada for the upcoming growing season.

Ottawa has also announced an additional $5 billion in lending capacity through Farm Credit Canada to support farmers, agribusiness and food processors. Some may also qualify to defer capital or loan interest, and those farmers with outstanding Advance Payment Program loans due on or before April 30 will be granted another six months to repay them. CFIA will also continue to deliver critical services.

There is market instability, however, it’s not necessarily a negative factor in agriculture right now. There are indicators of strong global demand for certain grades of milling wheat, and durum bids in Western Canada have found some support. Additionally, it has been reported Intercontinental Exchange Futures (ICE) canola contracts were stronger at the time of writing, largely because the Canadian dollar has dropped to US68.9 cents. Fuel prices are also down at this time due to the precipitous drop in oil. Interest rates have never been lower. These are positive indicators for production agriculture.

Some of you may have to harvest this spring before you can start to seed. That won’t be easy and time will be tight; however, reports indicate there is ample moisture this planting season and, hopefully, one less thing to worry about.

What can Grainews do to help make your growing season easier? What questions can we answer for you? What information do you need to be more productive and make more money? We are here to support you and the important job you do to feed Canadians and the world — especially during defining moments in history as these will become. Contact me with your questions or suggestions at [email protected] or Twitter @Kari_Grainews.

These may be unprecedented times, and uncertainty is the catchword of the day, but who better to deal with uncertainty and adapt quickly to change than farmers?

Best wishes and stay well!

About the author

Editor

Kari Belanger

Kari Belanger has been a writer and editor since graduating from the University of Calgary with a B.Sc. in Biology and a BA in English Literature in 1996. For more than twenty years, she has worked in many different industries and media, including newspapers and trade publications. For the past decade she has worked exclusively in the agriculture industry, leading a number of publications as editor. Kari has a particular passion for grower-focused publications and a deep respect for Canadian farmers and the work they do. Her keen interest in agronomy and love of writing have led to her long-term commitment to support, strengthen and participate in the industry.

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