A Safe and Successful Growing Season
The Re-Open Saskatchewan plan in response the COVID-19 pandemic was announced last week. The five-phase plan will continue to protect health and safety, while slowly lifting restrictions so that more businesses and facilities can re-open, and more employees can go back to work.
Saskatchewan remains committed to supporting our businesses and industries even as restrictions are gradually lifted. In addition to the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment, The Business Response Team has been established to work with businesses to identify provincially and federally support programs available. Businesses can access this assistance by calling 1-844-800-8688 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our government recognizes the challenges facing the agriculture industry as it begins its busiest season. Physical distancing restrictions require working in different ways. Many producers rely on temporary workers during the planting season, and any temporary workers arriving from outside Canada must self-isolate for fourteen days. Livestock industries also face challenges as cattle, pork and poultry producers have seen their markets diminish because of the closure of packing plants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staying focused on safety requires even more diligence when there is distraction due to stress or time pressures. SaskPower reminded farmers to be aware and take precautions around power lines as they head out to begin work for the spring season. There were 327 reported incidents of farm machinery contacting electrical equipment in 2019, which is up slightly from the previous year. All line contacts can be prevented by taking safety measures.
One of these safety measures is taking care of physical and mental health, such as getting proper rest, drinking plenty of water and taking breaks throughout the day to prevent fatigue. The Farm Stress Line is an important tool in managing mental health during stressful times. The service is free, confidential and available 24/7 by calling 1-800-667-4442. Having the mental health support needed can be key to a safe and successful season.
To further assist producers, our government continues to evaluate the business risk management programs to ensure they are meeting the needs of Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry. The AgriStability enrollment deadline for the 2020 program year has been extended to July 3, 2020. This step, which has been agreed to by federal, provincial and territorial governments, will help producers manage the impacts of current market disruptions, increased expenses and production challenges.
The federal and provincial governments have also agreed to increase the 2020 AgriStability interim benefit payment from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for Saskatchewan producers. Interim benefits can provide producers with a portion of their final AgriStability benefit early, to help support losses and cover costs. Saskatchewan producers can now apply for an interim benefit to receive 75 per cent of their estimated final 2020 benefit before completing their program year. Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation is also waiving the six months farming and one production cycle criteria for participants applying for 2020 interim benefits.
To enroll in the AgriStability Program or to apply for an interim benefit, producers can contact their local Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation office, call the AgriStability Call Centre toll-free at 1-886-270-8450 or email email@example.com.
Thank you to all agricultural workers for feeding our families. I wish you a safe and successful growing season.