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‘Canadians should be very concerned for their food supply’ says New Brunswick farmer

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick farmers struggling with rising costs'
New Brunswick farmers struggling with rising costs
WATCH: Between skyrocketing fuel, fertilizer and labour costs, farmers are starting the season just hoping to break even. One New Brunswick farmer says the thought of that is nothing short of frightening. Suzanne Lapointe reports – May 12, 2022

Christian Michaud says he’s never experienced a spring as nerve-wracking as this one in the decades he’s worked on his family farm.

He sells the vegetables, berries, and barley his farm produces to wholesalers, as well as at his roadside stand just outside of Bouctouche, N.B.

“Fertilizer has doubled. Price of seed has gone up 40 per cent, labour is more expensive and because of the price of diesel every input is now more expensive,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

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He said he finds himself tossing and turning at night, wondering how he will break even this year.

His farm uses nine tractors, which consume 200 litres of diesel fuel a day each.

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“That’s where the fear factor comes in. Are we gonna get enough money for our product for what it has cost us to put in the ground?”

The executive director of Bouctouche’s farmer’s market, Rachelle Richard-Collette, says Michaud is not the only one feeling the pinch.

“For us at the market, we haven’t raised the prices (for vendors). We’re trying to operate as tight as we can,” she said on Thursday.

Richard-Collette said vendors are trying to come up with ways not to raise prices too much ahead of an uncertain tourism season, adding they will likely make adjustments once they gauge the traffic when the market opens for the season in late May.

“Even the bakers, they’re reporting butter has gone up tremendously. Flour, eggs, spices have gone up as well, not just the vegetables. Everything, the input in the whole food industry is being greatly affected,” she said.

Read more: Lack of housing in rural N.B. contributing to labour shortages: economist

Michaud is hoping for federal assistance for farmers if the season doesn’t prove profitable, as most other farmers he has spoken to are expressing the same worries.

He says many farmers are worse off than him, as he owns a house for the temporary foreign workers he brings in every year to live in, while others find themselves unable to hire help due to the housing crisis.

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“If I have to sell the farm, unfortunately, it would probably have to go for real estate. I could probably get triple or quadruple the value than I would farm-wise.” he said.

“After four generations it’s the last scenario I want to think of but if I have to save my house from the bank, it will be the scenario I have to take.”

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