‘Its all about cash flow right now’: Canada’s farm industry reacts to Prime Minister's pledge to aid
SASKATOON -- With global concern rising in the Agri-food industry, some Saskatchewan farmers breathed a sigh of relief when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced financial aid is imminent during uncertain times as Covid-19 spreads.
Monday morning Trudeau announced the Canadian government, alongside Farm Credit Canada (FCC) will work together for an additional $5 billion dollar lending capacity to help aid farmers.
“It’s all about cash flow right now,” said Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan President (APAS) Todd Lewis.
The lending capacity for Agri-food businesses along with a six month extension is set to cost $173 million dollars in deferred loans to help the growing financial concern of farmers in western Canada.
Its welcome news to Lewis, who, like many other Canadians in the food sector, is vulnerable to the growing list of issues brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
As a farmer, Lewis has dealt with the challenges of shipping constraints due to Covid-19, but believes getting food to Canadians must remain of the utmost importance.
“We’ve had lots of shipping issues, farmers are concerned that in spite of Covid-19, our transportation corridors remain open,” said Lewis.
He believes despite the global pandemic, along with the upcoming spring seeding, things here in Saskatchewan must remain business-as-usual.
“Hopefully we’re not going to have chemical shortages or fertilizer shortages and we’ll be able to get our crops in and things into a growing season here, for the good of the country and the province.”
Retired farmer and President of Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities Ray Orb is also hopeful the Prime Minister’s pledge to aid will help settle growing concerns, and recognizes there are still challenges ahead.
“Although we have not heard of rail slowdowns yet, we are cognizant that the crews could come down with Covid-19,” Orb said when asked what further issues could affect producers.
SARM is a lobby organization that represents 296 rural municipalities within the province. The retired farmer, alongside SARM employees, is amongst many Canadians dealing with physical-distancing implementation.
When asked how Covid-19 could directly affect Saskatchewan’s farmers, Orb said that though time taken for testing, as well as self-isolating, farmers could lose precious days needed to get the crop in, missed grain deliveries and the possibility of lost contracts.
Orb feels although there have been hardships due to physical distancing, SARM will continue to maintain their duties.
“Our municipal system has slowed down, but is still operating.”