Coping with drought: A message from the Chair of SaskCanola

Coping with drought: A message from Bernie McClean, Chair of SaskCanola

There is much uncertainty about where yields are going to be this harvest. According to the latest Saskatchewan Crop Report, crops in most of the province continue to be damaged by high heat, wind, and lack of moisture. Many farmers are expecting the worst as any additional moisture will at best only stop further deterioration. But for many crops it is too late to reverse the damage. 

There are several measures you can take to help plan for whatever harvest brings later this summer.

  1. Agronomics are still important and will allow you to get every possible dollar out of your field. If you are concerned about yields, taking steps to control what you can is likely your best option. Make sure you have a good idea of your crop conditions and potential thresholds for interventions because as prices and yields change, so do thresholds, e.g., spraying for lygus bugs or grasshoppers.
  2. Contact your grain buyer if you have concerns about meeting your contract obligations. Open communication is critical – keep them informed about your particular situation. Also, because the language and policies in contracts vary from company to company, it is important to be knowledgeable on the terms of your delivery contract. In preparing for the conversation, evaluate your options and ensure you understand the terms around volume, cancellation, liquidated damages, and force majeure. Seek a legal opinion if required. CCGA has resources to help you navigate grain contracts (see below).
  3. Speak with the grain company about penalties and fees that may be associated with the contracts and be prepared to discuss options if you won’t have the grain to fulfill them.
  4. Get in touch with your SCIC representative early to discuss the insurance claim requirements and help determine what you should be doing about your crop.
  5. Talk with your neighbours and ask for their advice because they’re likely in the same (or a similar) boat. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, see the resources available on the Do More Ag or Farm Stress Line websites. If you are in crisis, call 911 or go to an emergency department.

SaskCanola will make every effort to keep growers updated as the growing season progresses. Feel free to reach out by contacting our office at info@saskcanola.com or 1-306-975-0262.

What’s being done to help address drought issues so far….

SaskCanola

We recognize these are unprecedented times for agriculture in Saskatchewan. SaskCanola continues to convey the serious implications of drought conditions for grain and livestock producers to the provincial ministry and other levels of governments, as well as stakeholders in the grain industry. With our partners at CCC and CCGA, we are working to identify options and search for the best possible outcomes for Saskatchewan canola growers.

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture

On July 15, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit announced that Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) will implement measures to address dry conditions impacting producers. Effective immediately, changes will be made to allow low yielding crops to be put to alternate use to support the livestock sector. 

Farm Credit Canada

FCC is offering a customer support program to farmers and ranchers across western Canada who are facing production challenges due to adverse growing conditions. They will work with growers to come up with solutions for their operations and consider additional short term credit options, deferral of principal payments, and/or other loan payment schedule amendments to reduce financial pressures on those impacted by unfavourable weather.

Customers in Western Canada are encouraged to get in touch with their FCC relationship manager sooner rather than later to allow for the most flexibility in discussing options. You can do this by contacting your local office or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301.

Canadian Canola Growers Association

Many growers have expressed concerns about not being able to deliver on forward priced delivery contracts. Our national producer group, the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA),has developed resources that can help farmers navigate their contracts:
•    CCGA: A Practical Guide to Navigate Grain Contracts
•    CCGA: What to Consider if Production Comes Up Short on a Deferred Delivery Contract
•    CCGA: KnowYourGrade.ca

CCGA has also been talking to the Western Grain Elevator Association and the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association about the implications of short supply on contract fulfillment subsequent impacts to the value-added sector. CCGA, along with the Grain Growers of Canada, are supporting the Canadian Cattleman’s Association request for temporary but immediate drought related actions on crop insurance.

Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has pledged support to all Prairie provinces for immediate bilateral adjustments to the cost-shared AgriInsurance program to make drought-damaged crops available for feed. Bibeau also jointly announced Manitoba’s proposal to expedite any payments under the Hay Disaster Benefit.

AgriRecovery assessments are underway with provinces impacted by the drought. Ottawa said it will collaborate with provincial governments to gather all the necessary information as fast as possible to evaluate the extraordinary costs faced by producers and provide joint support as required, potentially including direct assistance to producers for the added cost of livestock feed, transportation, and water infrastructure.

Provinces affected by drought can also invoke the late participation provision of AgriStability to allow producers who have not yet enrolled to access program supports. Producers can apply for interim payments under AgriStability, which can help them cope with immediate financial challenges. Bibeau again repeated the federal government’s offer to raise the AgriStability compensation rate from 70% to 80% and urged Prairie governments to match it. This would provide farmers across the country an additional $75 million per year.

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