Farmer worries about upcoming spring seeding

While equipment sales haven’t been hurt yet due to grain farmers unable to sell their crop, Lazar Equipment Ltd. in Meadow Lake notes their company’s main target is not grain producers because of its fluxuating market. Here, sales associate Jim Schneider stands next to a new piece of equipment to be sold this spring.

While equipment sales haven’t been hurt yet due to grain farmers unable to sell their crop, Lazar Equipment Ltd. in Meadow Lake notes their company’s main target is not grain producers because of its fluctuating market. Here, sales associate Jim Schneider stands next to a new piece of equipment to be sold this spring.

by Derek Cornet

Goodsoil area grain farmer Robert Holba still has last year’s harvest in his bins and has little confidence demands by the federal government will move it any quicker.

Transport minister Lisa Raitt recently announced Canadian Pacific and the Canadian National Railway would need to transport 500,000 tonnes of grain every week or else face penalties up to $100,000 per day if they don’t meet the requirement. The government is giving the companies four weeks to comply with minimum levels.
Holba, however, is still waiting to move his grain to market, which was priced at forecasts in October. Last harvest was the best crop Holba has grown and, as a result, he had to purchase additional bins to store it. But, as the months pass and he’s unable to move his grain, he’s worried about the upcoming growing season.

“I’ve been farming for 35 years and there were times we held on to the harvest waiting for a better price, but we always had the option to move it,” he said. “Now, the government is trying to be the hero while the producers are paying the bill.”

Holba said action should have been taken months ago and some grain farmers may experience financial difficulties due to a combination of low prices and backlogged deliveries. He’s also worried about upcoming road restrictions when the soil begins to thaw and how much grain he can move when the time comes.

Holba also pondered if he or any other grain farmer should seed a crop this year. He said Canada’s record harvest last year wasn’t big enough to bring down world markets and, although some people may go hungry, producers should be paid well for the 2015 crop.

While grain producers are still waiting to cash in on last year’s harvest, Lazar Equipment Ltd. in Meadow Lake hasn’t experienced a decline in sales. General manager Geraldine Wagman said the company mainly targets cattle producers. She noted it’s hard to market grain in the Northwest considering there’s no railway linking them to the south.

Financially, Wagman said Northwest farmers are business-minded or well-established. She said they’re planning into the future and know what they need to break even. Farmers are also largely preplanning their equipment purchases and rotating their equipment responsibly so they don’t end up with several issues at once.

“Usually when farmers go under it’s because of something that’s been evolving over time, but issues like this could be the nail in the coffin,” Wagman said. “They could be forced to sell equipment or land.”

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