By Patrick Meagher
TWEED — After six weeks in a countrywide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the worst-hit province, Quebec, announced that it would begin to re-open the economy on May 4. Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, also talked of a slow return to business.
Despite the many hardships on many farms, life on many other farms saw a lot of upside, unless you were going into town or ordering parts. One upside was more time with the kids and a break from driving to soccer practices and music lessons.
Farmers who meet regularly for breakfast were delighted to hear they will be able meet up with friends again. Harold Bateman’s boys’ club that meets at the Tweed Tim Hortons restaurant each morning was reduced from 12 guys to four in the parking lot in April. “We have a tailgate party and yell at each from a distance,” he said.
When it came to business, the shutdown was mostly bad (See pages A2-A4). But this story headline promised good news. For local abattoirs, business was never better. Smaller farms with direct-to-consumer sales of vegetables and meat are seeing spikes in revenue (page A10). Bateman, a cow-calf, beef and lamb producer, said local meat sales are huge. “I know a lot of people who have bought a freezer. There is always some good that comes of bad.”
It was business as usual for large-scale crop farmers, as some began planting late last month. Everything was running smoothly although some farmers worried about supply lines as some seed delivery was delayed, said Picton crop farmer and Pioneer seed dealer Lloyd Crowe. “It’s just slowed down like a week to 10 days.”
At Chesterville, crop farmer Andy Corput was proactive. He stocked up on things he often needs, like a shaft for his corn planter, which breaks every couple of years. He saw no delays getting seed or parts.
Tractor dealers continued to lock their doors and take farmers by appointment. Up in Renfrew County, Ian McGregor said his fertilizer dealer had gone to split shifts, where half the employees worked at any one time, so that if anyone got sick only one shift would need to be quarantined.
“Nothing has changed at home, except you can’t walk up and talk to the milk truck driver, and I order parts online,” said Cornwall-area dairy farmer Angela Dorie. “The thing I am most scared about is that when all is back to normal, the lineup at the hairdresser will be a mile long.”
She said she heard there was a run on hair dryers.
And now for the good news: Meeting for coffee might just get easier
By Patrick Meagher