Local Farm News
Thanks to some unseasonably warm and dry weather, many local agricultural producers have gotten a jump on the growing season. “We had that great weather about two weeks ago and a lot of the farmers have been getting on the land. It was too early to seed our land but we got a head start getting the fields ready,” said Hatley Township farmer and Quebec Farmer’s Association director Wendell Conner. “Some other farmers were able to
seed and we were able to get all the manure spread. That was the first time we were able to get that done this early. The grass doesn’t seem to be coming fast – the ground is still cold but that could change fast,” he added. According to Mr. Conner, the rain that we got recently was badly needed in the fields. “It was getting really dry. We got a little too much but better that than too little.”
Calf prices at the auctions have been good in recent months. “We’re back now to the prices before the mad cow epidemic hit. The farmers suffered about nine or ten years with that and finally it’s a little easier to pay the bills,” said the beef producer. Last year was a “disaster” because the stabilization payments were reduced and the price per pound at the auction was still low; now the price per pound can range between $1.50 and $1.70, even up to $2 for some calves. Although costs such as fuel and property taxes have increased enormously in the last ten years, beef farmers “are well satisfied with the prices.”
Satisfied or not, as was reported by Statistics Canada, the number of farms in the Estrie region is going down. “Quite a few farmers have dropped out. Smaller producers just give up because anyone with a mortgage or farm loans is going to have a hard time,” concluded Mr. Conner.