Sask. Chamber of Commerce says poor harvest could impact whole province

·4 min read

Producers across Saskatchewan are facing hardships brought on by the dry growing season.

Because of this, some producers are concerned about post-harvest bills and lack of revenue due to the dry weather.

The Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce says that when producers struggle financially, it affects all of Saskatchewan.

Chamber CEO Steve McLellan says that low-yield during harvest will not only impact Saskatchewan’s economy, but also provincial funds.

“I think the situation in agriculture is going to impact the economy in many ways at many levels, the first of course and the biggest would be the direct impact that the lack of revenue in some areas of the province from the ag producers. The crops are not going to produce at the level we thought they were going to in the spring and what everybody hoped for, so that means less money in local communities, fewer equipment purchases in fall, those sorts of things are significant,” said McLellan.

“The other thing that’s also going to be impacted is the provincial coffers. When you consider the impact on the crop insurance organizations, the impact on tax revenues being decreased, all of those have a long-term impact but the one that is going to be the most visible across the province is the change of attitude. We were looking for a real strong ag economy this year to get our attitude up to act as a stimulus to get the economy going. If that doesn’t happen, as ag goes in Saskatchewan so does our attitude, so does our revenues. It’s going to be a challenging fall, but our farmers, like our people, are persistent and I am very confident that we’ll get through this as we have in years gone by.”

McLellan explained that producers play a huge role in Saskatchewan’s economy and a poor harvest will impact every community in the province.

“They’re huge in our economy, there’s no question. Every community in our province relies on farmers for everything from gasoline to groceries, from farm machinery to supplies. They rely on those communities to produce goods to sell to the world and that money comes back in many ways to the businesses in every community in this province, big and small. Whether they’re working in office towers in Saskatoon or restaurants in small towns and villages, everybody has a stake in the success of our ag community. When our ag producers are down, everybody’s feeling the pain.

“Farm machinery folks will be feeling the pinch this fall. There are already challenges there with supply chains being impacted, but we’re going to see fewer purchases and that’s a challenge because those are big businesses. It’s going to impact everybody from the grocery store to the car dealers to the hardware stores. It’s a significant impact on Saskatchewan, but our ag producers and communities are resilient and we will get through the harder days and we’ll find success again.”

McLellan encourages everybody to do their part in helping farmers, whether it is businesses cooperating to extend loans, or drivers just taking time to give producers the right of way on roads.

“We need to be respectful of every business person and ag producers are huge businesses in Saskatchewan. There are lots we can do, our financial sector is doing all they can to be patient in terms of loan repayments, in terms of cash flow, that sort of thing. But individuals can do things as well. If you see ag producers going down the road in a combine, or with a trailer, or with a load of bales, give them room to pass. Allow them some capacity to take control of the road and stay out of their way. When you do all those things as a courtesy, that makes the farmer feel a little better and he may be having a lousy day, it’s important to make sure we do all we can. Even if we’re not loaning money or equipment to them, we can certainly show them a bit of a better day.”

Even with more hot, dry weather expected, McLellan remains positive and says it’s not time to give up.

“There’s still time in this year to see what the final tally is, what the crops come off at, so we’re not throwing in the towel just yet,” said McLellan.

Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator

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