AILSA CRAIG — With another growing season just around the corner, crop farmer concerns vary but the biggest worries are about costs.
Many crop farmers are concerned that there is no resolution on the fertilizer tariff issue “that’s making us uncompetitive with US and global competitors,” said Ailsa Craig cash cropper Steve Twynstra, referring to the 35 % tariff that Canada alone (among G7 countries) has imposed on Russian-sourced fertilizer.
Twynstra anticipated continued tight margins in 2023 alongside those increased fertilizer costs, although fertilizer prices “are softening a little bit,” he conceded.
He pointed to “federal farm policy” as an overall key concern, including the federal government’s carbon tax, the ongoing fertilizer tariff, plans to curtail fertilizer emissions, and a new clean fuel standard that comes into effect this year, which some have likened to a second carbon tax.
“There are so many different policies that affect agriculture that we need to make sure that science prevails … that agronomic science prevails, not political science,” Twynstra said.
Out on the field, “I would think we’re in pretty good shape right now,” he observed. “We’ve had some cold snaps but … the wheat crop’s usually not made until March or April. Right now, things are looking not too bad.”
Palmerston wheat and straw producer Darcy Trinier said he was primarily concerned “if the markets are going to hold and keep pace with our input costs” in 2023. “I guess I’m hoping for another good crop, but just overall costs are my main concern,” he added.
The supply chain is also an ongoing concern. “Getting spare parts” is Tilbury cash cropper Gus Ternoey’s top concern.
“I’ve already got fertilizer, and my seed’s already purchased, but some parts have been months arriving, when you used to be able to get them in three days.
“So, not knowing what’s going to break, that’s always a concern. I think I’m OK so long as nothing unexpected breaks, but otherwise that could be a problem.”
Exeter-area dairy farmer and cash cropper Jeff Van Soest said he was concerned by farmers bidding up land rental prices to levels that simply don’t pencil out.
“They aren’t doing the math,” said Van Soest. “We’ve lost some rental land to people that are way over-paying because of the high (commodity) prices. But with the high prices of fuel and everything, they’re not going to make any money. They’re not thinking long term.
“People are paying way too much to rent land and going in behind people’s backs and offering more money. It’s a little sad to see.”
Otherwise, he’s “pretty optimistic about the coming year,” he said. “I always am. I’m a farmer.”