Farmers concerned about transportation delays, input costs because of COVID-19

Preliminary CAHRC survey results show 26 per cent of farms saw workers take temporary leave for self-isolation, and 22 per cent take leave because of illness

Sixty-four per cent of farmers said they were thinking about dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at their farm.

Three-quarters of Manitoba farmers are concerned about transportation delays caused by the pandemic, according to preliminary survey results from the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC).

Jennifer Wright, senior HR adviser with CAHRC, shared initial survey data at the Keystone Agricultural Producers annual general meeting on January 26.

CAHRC spoke to 448 farm operators across Canada between mid-November 2020 and mid-January 2021. Thirty-two responses came from Manitoba.

Sixty-four per cent of farmers said they were thinking about dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at their farm or business when considering how they’d deal with the pandemic in 2021.

Fifty-nine per cent said they were concerned about changing costs of inputs while 55 per cent said they were concerned about changing COVID-19 safety measures.

Fifty per cent said they were concerned about temporary vacancies caused by COVID-19 such as leave because of self-isolation, illness or other reasons. Negative impacts on business sales or revenue was a concern for 41 per cent.

Survey data so far showed 26 per cent of those surveyed said workers had initiated temporary leave for self-isolation. Twenty-two per cent had workers go on temporary leave because of illness (above the preliminary Canadian average of 17 per cent).

Seventeen per cent had seen workers depart because they were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

Seventeen per cent of employers had increased working hours or shifts, well below the Canadian average of 36 per cent. Nine per cent had reduced hours.

Twenty-two per cent of employers surveyed had hired new workers, while four per cent had permanently laid off workers.

“We are currently interviewing key opinion leaders to add some nuance to the survey results,” Debra Hauer told the Co-operator. Hauer is manager of AgriLMI at CAHRC.

“We are planning to distribute a report at the end of March with the results of our research,” she added.

About the author

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Geralyn Wichers

Geralyn Wichers grew up on a hobby farm near Anola, Manitoba, where her family raised cattle, pigs and chickens. Geralyn graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in 2019 and was previously a reporter for The Carillon in Steinbach. Geralyn is also a published author of science fiction and fantasy novels.

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