More than 250 farmers participated in the online poll
By Diego Flammini
Saskatchewan farmers have provided a snapshot into how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their operations.
A total of 262 producers participated in Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan’s (APAS) first COVID-19 survey between March 25 and April 5.
The organization will be posting online surveys on a weekly basis with different questions as the pandemic continues. APAS plans to share the results with governments to help them develop industry responses.
Here are some of the highlights from the first survey.
Seventy-two per cent of survey respondents believe the pandemic will lead to lower revenues and reduced commodity prices while another 71 per cent think the COVID-19 situation will lead to reduced cash flow.
Almost half of the polled farmers think COVID-19 will hinder their abilities to pay bills.
“Farmers need cash to be able to get their crop in the ground this spring, and after the brutal last couple of years we’ve dealt with, reduced cash flow would really break people,” Todd Lewis, president of APAS, said in an April 6 statement. “So far, the government’s COVID-19 support to farmers has been to increase our access to loans, but going into even more debt isn’t the answer.”
Other findings include:
- 41 per cent of farmers have seen the cost of inputs increase or anticipate the costs to go up
- 45 per cent have reported delays in the delivery and sale of farm production
- 18 per cent reported issues finding farm labour
Sask. producers are also reporting higher levels of stress.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest level, farmers averaged 6.23 out of 10. Another 5 per cent did report “unbearable levels” of stress.
Mental health resources have been receiving more calls from farmers during these difficult times.
“We’re certainly busier than usual…,” Jan Thorson, executive director of Mobile Crisis Services, which manages the province’s Farm Stress Line, told Discover Estevan. “I think (COVID-19 has) placed a little extra stress on the population in general since none of us know how long we’ll be living under these restrictions.”
APAS’s next survey has been posted and will be available until April 12.
Farms.com has reached out to APAS and other farm groups for comment.