Seeding is over

FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, June 14, 2010

This spring I have monitored the immediate area right around Tisdale hoping that would give me a suitable sample to report to you as to how things are going. The area immediately around Tisdale was seeded almost 100% as was the area along highway #3 to Crooked River but move outward just a bit north or south and the story is very much different.

Today after reading the
Star Phoenix story about Tisdale and Connaught RMs declaring an agricultural disaster, I drove further north then usual today and I was shocked to see so little crop up as the area around Tisdale itself is green with this year's crop looking pretty good. Although the green fields around Tisdale are starting to show a lot of yellow from drowning.

The RMs of Tisdale and Connaught are reported to have only 30% seeded and that is most likely the case but there are some complications to this year's story. You will recall I mentioned in an earlier story that farmers were not relying on chemicals this spring and instead of spraying were attempting to control the weeds with light tillage prior to putting seed in the ground. With the size of modern farms you just don't have that much time to pass over each field a couple of times and when they should have been seeding they were tilling and the result is a lot of fields did not get seeded. It all goes back to this being set up to be a pretty negative agricultural year.

Farmers knew from the outset that they can only expect 45% return on this year's crop even if it is an outstanding crop simply because the price of commodities are down and will continue to decline. With that knowledge farmers realised that one of the costs in planting this year's crop was in chemicals and that could be a saving if you did not go to that expense. To getting the crop in was not the main priority when you know that even if things go well your return is going to be less than half of last year.

Many farmers with large amounts of land invest in crop insurance, it is almost a necessity and if they do not plant at all they can expect a return of $50 an acre where as to plant and acre it is going to cost a minimum of $200 an acre. The equation is pretty straightforward. Bad weather might be a good thing.

I was surprised driving north today to see the huge amount of water just laying in the fields. A few days drying, even a week or so of dry weather is not going to turn those fields into land that can be worked and planted. It is now a foregone conclusion that what is planted is the crop for this year as I saw not a single farmer north of town working in the warm sunny fields this afternoon. Seeding is over.

From the Star Phoenix article there is indication that farmers are going to be soliciting governments both provincial and federal for assistance. When you look at the nature of modern day agriculture government plays an important role in the economic equation that determines just breaking even. Especially when you consider the level of agricultural subsidy paid by our neighbours to the south where farming is merely an extension of government.