Saskatchewan

Farmers look ahead to spring as COVID-19 sends shockwaves through economy

The spread of COVID-19 has had considerable effects on the economy here in Saskatchewan and across the country. Farmers are gearing up for spring under unprecedented circumstances. 

Farmers taking extra precautions as seeding season approaches

Saskatchewan farmers are awaiting the beginning of spring, but COVID-19 could bring additional anxiety. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

For now, things are pretty normal at Lee Moats' farm, which is near Riceton, Sask.

"We're concerned about what's happening in the world with COVID-19," Moats said on CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend.

"But in our case, we're out here on the farm. We're doing mostly what we would do on any other day and getting ready for the seeding season." 

Machinery maintenance and repair are big for Moats right now. He said the farm supply folks he usually works with are taking necessary precautions to keep them and their products safe and that he — like every spring — is optimistic for the season. 

He thinks there is a difference between being concerned about what will happen in the future and being worried or fearful — and doesn't think we should panic. 

"I think there's good cause for concern [for the] supply chain both in and out. How do we get our products out? How do we get the inputs that we need in?

"It's a good thing to be concerned and to consider what steps we need to take to ensure that our food supply is secure in Canada, but also that we're able to supply countries around the world that are also concerned about their food security."

Moats' farm is a family operation. COVID-19 could push them to change the way they interact, but how that will play out that remains to be seen. 

Kris Mayerle, owner of Greenleaf Seeds, farms near Tisdale, Sask. He said all of his employees and their families, as well as his own family, are healthy. 

"The business is important but my family and my employees and their families are more important," Mayerle said. 

Like most people, Mayerle is taking some extra precautions now. They've tried to minimize visitors to the farm as much as possible and if someone does come, they have to meet certain criteria before they're let in.

Right now, Mayerle is focused on cleaning seed and getting it ready for customers, as well as doing some grain hauling. 

His kids, for one, have been enjoying the fact that they can roam around freely when they're not doing school work. 

"My daughter said she doesn't know how she would survive if she had to live in a town or a city at this time," Mayerle said. 

Mayerle's biggest concern going forward is the health of his employees and family. If one person got sick, it could potentially shut the farm down for at least two weeks. And depending on the timing, that could be disastrous.

"There's only a short period of time for us to get that crop in the ground," Mayerle said. 

Otherwise, though, Mayerle said everything they need to seed the crop is available. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emily Pasiuk

Reporter/Associate Producer

Emily Pasiuk is a reporter and associate producer for CBC Edmonton. She has filmed two documentaries, and reported in Saskatchewan before coming to Edmonton. Tips? Ideas? Reach her at emily.pasiuk@cbc.ca.

With files from Peter Mills and CBC Radio's Saskatchewan Weekend

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