Written by Maury Wrubleski

This fall, agricultural producers in the province were invited to participate in a survey sponsored by the Agriculture Producers of Saskatchewan (APAS) to gauge producers’ experiences with grain contracts in the wake of this summer’s prolonged dry period. The organization has released the preliminary results of the survey based on data collected from August 16. 

Because of the widespread nature of the drought, 75 percent of respondents stated they were not able to fulfill their contractual obligations. Many of those same producers said their failure to produce the committed volume has led to penalties and administrative fees of between $20,000 and $300,000 owed to grain companies. Some reported interest charges on the unpaid portions of their contracts as high as 19 percent.

Additionally, 25 percent noted they’d had problems contacting their grain buyers to report or resolve issues. It’s resulted in many producers turning away from their existing buyers and future contracts with the same company. 

The survey by APAS was prompted when the agency started hearing about the challenges and the accompanying stress.  

“When mother nature has already given producers a tough year, contract provision made production problems even more serious,” APAS President Todd Lewis said. “We developed this survey to get more information about producers’ individual experiences with the grain companies, so we can develop ideas around improving provisions in future contracts. It’s in the mutual interest of both producers and grain companies to develop a more workable system.”

The survey remains open at  apas.ca/graincontracts to December 1 for producers who wish to complete it. The preliminary findings were based on over 200 respondents.  

APAS notes that those producers seeking legal advice or mental health supports should access the Farm Stress Line at 1-800-667-4442 or help@farmstressline.ca.