There has never been a more expensive year for crop and livestock production compared to 2021.
According to the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), farmers paid $11. 5 billion in farming expenses, which is equivalent to buying the entire Toronto Blue Jays organization almost six and a half times as the team comes in at $1.78 billion in the same year.
This is an 11-per cent increase compared to 2020 which means it was the largest year-over-year increase since 2012.
“That number is astounding to me,” said APAS president Ian Boxall. “In our meetings across the province, the rising cost of production is the biggest concern voiced by producers.”
A Saskatchewan farmer also noticed the price spike on his ranch. Norm Hall grows a variety of different crops including wheat, canola, mustard, flax, yellow peas and oats on occasion.
Hall estimated his costs were anywhere from 20 to 25 per cent higher than last year.
Boxall said commodity prices were sitting higher this year which did help level out the financial burden. However, Hall does not believe it helped many.
“For producers that are already on tight margins that could put them in a deep hole.”
The highest expense was fertilizer which made up for 24 per cent of Saskatchewan producers’ total costs and exceeded 2020’s fertilizer purchases by 30 per cent.
“We also heard about shortages of fertilizer this fall and pesticides throughout the summer. The lack of availability and price volatility in these markets has created a lot of uncertainty that we don’t want to experience again in 2023,” said Boxall.
Karen Proud with Fertilizer Canada said inflation, supply chain issues and world events such as the war in Ukraine are causing the price spike.
“We have seen slight reductions in this quarter over last but still very high prices and still a lot of volatility in the market,” said Proud.
However, Boxall and Hall were not certain the regular indicators for price jumps were the only cause at play.
“Inflation is at 14 per cent over the last three or four years and fertilizer is at 129… why? Tell us why that is. Why is there such a differential?” said Boxall.
“The lack of transparency on what’s causing these price spikes is very concerning and requires further investigation. Western Canada is a major producer of nitrogen fertilizer, and farmers have longstanding concerns about retail prices for domestically produced fertilizer being set at international market levels with freight from overseas locations added to retail prices in Saskatchewan.”
Hall said, “What’s causing it all? Greed? Or are they just trying to take their share of commodity dollars that we’re getting?”
APAS is looking to get answers from provincial and federal governments as well as suppliers themselves.
In the meantime, Boxall assumes the costs will stay high for at least another year or two, hitting farmers and producers with even larger bills and for some, not enough income.