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Sask. ag and COVID-19

Sask. ag and COVID-19

APAS launched a survey to understand how the virus is affecting the industry

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

A Saskatchewan farm organization wants to know how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the province’s producers.

The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) launched an online survey to track how the province’s ag sector is dealing with the evolving situation.

The questions include ones about credit availability, supply chain disruptions and access to labour. Questions could change as the COVID-19 situation progresses.

The survey will be available to farmers on a weekly basis starting on Wednesdays. Each week, APAS will tabulate the results and share them with the farming community as well as federal and provincial decisionmakers.

In times like these, open forms of communication are necessary, said Todd Lewis, the president of APAS.

“Everything is changing rapidly and we want to ensure that … is credit available at the farm gate and that some of the changes the federal government has put in place are useful at the farm-gate level,” he told Farms.com.

The strain COVID-19 is putting on the sector could lead to food security challenges.

The results from the survey will help governments understand if more steps must be taken to ensure the domestic food supply is stable, Lewis said.

“I think our domestic food supply has certainly been taken for granted,” he said. “But the shelves are empty in some grocery stores and we need to recognize there’s going to be issues in the domestic food supply that’s going to be passed along to government.”

One way of ensuring Canada’s food supply remains secure during the COVID-19 situation could be to give the ag sector a special designation.

Members of the Conservative party, including John Barlow, the federal agriculture critic, are calling for the Trudeau government to declare the sector as critical infrastructure.

“By declaring the agriculture sector as essential during this crisis, the agri-food supply chain will remain intact and Canadians will be able to continue to count on access to safe and affordable food,” he said in a statement.

Lewis agreed that the special designation would help during these uncertain times.

“I think (Mr. Barlow) is right,” he said. “Food security has never been more important than it is now, domestically and internationally. We’re going to need a domestic employment strategy and other measures in place to ensure Canada’s food supply is in a good place.”

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