Many Agricultural Producers are sharing a common dilemma this year by asking themselves if they actually start planting, will there be anyone available at harvest time to help in the fields?
Will they have to adapt their crop choices just in the case that they may end up having to rely primarily on mechanical assistance?
Many Canadian farmers simply do not have enough workers thus far to manage their intended 2020 crop.
Premier François Legault has urged Quebecers who have been laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic to also look to local farms for employment, but the bigger questions remain:
Will local workers actually rise up and come to their assistance, or will most choose rather to stay home and collect their CERB (The Canada Emergency Relief Benefit).
Will there simply not be enough workers to gather the crops when needed?
Even if local workers heed the call, do they actually have the physical stamina to perform such work, and in turn actually remain at their post for the duration of the season?
If you think that you are able and available to lend a hand to agricultural producers then follow the link for information and/or to apply.
Montérégie farms must recruit thousands of workers to ensure the smooth running of the 2020 season. You can submit your information here:
Those interested in helping out on a farm near their home are also invited to contact the Agricultural Employment Center in their region by visiting https://www.emploiagricole.com/.
For those willing to try- and to properly prepare for their arrival on the farms, new workers shall have access to free online training prior to starting.
If you are an Agricultural Producer and need help, inquire here:
The Montérégie Agricultural Employment Center directly by phone: 450 774-9154 extension 5210 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The federal government has exempted temporary workers from COVID-19 cross-border travel restrictions because of their importance to the Canadian economy.
A $45 million investment was announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne, and the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Solidarity, Jean Boulet, to meet labor needs in the Quebec agricultural sector.
Some workers have already arrived in Canada and are said to be respecting the 2 week quarantine rules, whereas other simply did not come or have not arrived thus far.
The minimum wage set for temporary workers in 2020 is presently 13,10 $ per hour.
Approximately 16,000 temporary foreign workers are employed by Quebec's farming industry every summer- but unless they come in their usual numbers, and an ample amount of product is planted, farmers remain concerned that they will only have fractions of their usual crops at the end of the season.
CFA members are said to be pleased to see the government respond so promptly to the looming shortage of agri-food workers, and are committed to working with all the appropriate agencies and departments to ensure their entry maintains strict public health protocols to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Either way, it seems that heavy losses are to be incurred because of the impact by Covid- 19.
On the other hand, with the closures of the restaurant and bar related industry will this uncertainty mean that this food supply will simply remain in storage or perhaps even rot prior to distribution?
Many processing facilities around the country have already been impacted by temporary layoffs and shut downs.
Mary Robinson, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), warned during a recent press conference that without immediate assistance from the federal government, the Canadian agriculture sector cannot ensure our domestic food supply will remain secure for the immediate and long-term benefit of all Canadians.
She also stated that there is much other unexpected and increasing costs for farmers due to COVID-19.
"Canadian farmers are dealing with significantly increased costs associated with purchasing the necessary PPE for their workers.
In addition, due to meat processing plant closures, farmers are being forced to keep and feed their livestock for an extended period of time.
The CBC reports that "as a result, some farmers are feeling increasingly stressed, with some so worried about the mounting challenges, they are strongly considering stopping their farming operations to stave off financial disaster."
So what will happen? Nobody can predict what this season will bring, nor want to venture a guess.
Only time will tell.
Just like Covid-19.
A few local farm facts:
42 000 Quebecers farm for a living. Only 2% of Quebec’s land area is devoted to farmland.
The province is home to 29,000 farms.
Quebec farms lead in dairy, maple, pigs, and fruits, berries and nuts, while corn for grain, soybeans and oats make up the top field crops.
In Montérégie, agriculture generates a regional GDP of $ 1.12 billion and 15,300 jobs are directly linked to this sector of economic activity. The 6,880 farms in its region alone produce 30% of Quebec's gross agricultural product and 25% of agricultural jobs in Quebec.