Area farmers worry about rising costs, weather in 2017

Richard Froese
For the Lakeside Leader

Farmers are concerned the agricultural industry will be hurt by restrictions imposed by the new U.S. administration and other rising costs from government.
“As always, trade plays a large part in agriculture’s success,” says Roland Cailliau of Valleyview, the new vice-chair of the Alberta Beef Producers. “The move by President Donald Trump to pull the USA out of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement has for all intents and purposes left that agreement dead in the water and with it the extra trade the Canadian beef industry would have enjoyed in Japan and certain Asian countries.”
Trade will continue to be one of the major topics of concern for all Canadians in upcoming years, Cailliau says.
Farmers are also getting hit by the new provincial carbon tax that started Jan. 1.
“Yes, fuel used on the farm is exempt, but the agricultural community depends greatly on all modes of public transportation and the tax will end up on our ledgers.”
Low cattle prices have also hurt producers, Cailliau says.
“Whereas the beef industry had extremely satisfying profits two years ago, the markets changed course for us last fall and cow/calf producers’ profit margins were dramatically reduced.”
However, the picture has improved over the course of the winter, Cailliau says.
Recently the Alberta Government announced it would provide an additional $72 million for such things as income support to producers affected by low cattle prices.
The poor weather last fall left a sizeable portion of grain crops unharvested and many producers with extra costs.
“It’s a challenge to market much of the poor quality that was harvested,” Cailliau says.
On the other hand, for cattle producers, “It has provided us with lots of feed and good moisture going into spring.”
With average rainfall and without any major disruptive events, producers can expect a reasonably good crop.
Where farm help is concerned, Cailliau says it’s important that all levels of government understand that farmers rely much on immigrant labour; therefore, programs for foreign workers should be supported and not restricted.

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