Modern farming produces a bumper crop of worries

More than 1,300 farmers were asked about their top concerns — and it’s a long list

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What’s your biggest worry? Weather? Yield? Disease or pests?

It’s actually selling what you produce, according to a recent Farm Credit Canada survey.

The survey asked 1,363 producers about their major concerns and 67 per cent had marketing on their worry list — topping both production (60 per cent) and financial (53 per cent) risks.

Concern about marketing was highest for cattle producers and grains and oilseed farmers at 74 per cent — although it was a major worry for even dairy and poultry farmers (55 per cent and 53 per cent respectively) even though they don’t market their own milk and meat.

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Other issues that concern producers were human resources (cited by 31 per cent of respondents) and legal risks (23 per cent). Succession was a major concern for 44 per cent of those surveyed.

There is, in short, a lot of things that producers need to worry about these days, said FCC’s principal agricultural economist.

“Modern farming involves so much more than making decisions around production,” said Craig Klemmer. “It means keeping tabs on markets; ensuring your business can withstand sudden changes in commodity prices or economic conditions; and managing human resources while maintaining a safe work environment.”

Price and market access were among the top concerns when it came to marketing.

The responses on financial risk generated some interesting numbers with dairy farmers citing that as a top concern in about the same numbers (the mid-50 per cent range) as hog and cattle producers and somewhat above those of grain farmers. But only about a third of poultry producers rated financial risk as a top concern.

But having enough working capital was “the most prominent financial concern across all sectors, followed by unfavourable changes in interest rates and meeting debt payment obligations,” FCC said in a release.

“Almost 65 per cent of the respondents identified insufficient working capital as a risk to their operation. Out of this group, about 45 per cent indicated relying on off-farm income to mitigate this financial risk.”

“The good news is most producers are in a solid financial position to withstand short-term impacts on their business,” added Klemmer. “We encourage producers to have a risk management plan that pulls together mitigation strategies, as well as identifies key risks and available solutions to manage these risks before they emerge.”

The survey was conducted in July and its results released this month.

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