Drought Impacts Potato Harvest Revenue in New Brunswick
With the harvest season underway, the impact of the drought-like conditions this summer is being revealed in New Brunswick. Due to a lack of rainfall during the growing season, potato farmers say their yields are down significantly for the 2020 fall.
With the growing season over, potato farmers aren’t seeing the harvest they were used to in previous years. “Unfortunately, most producers saw about one-tenth of the precipitation they needed to have a successful growing season,” says Potatoes New Brunswick Executive Director, Matt Hemphill. “What that translates to is a 25-50% yield reduction throughout the province – that quickly adds up to CAD45m-CAD50m in revenue loss.”
In contrast, the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick says the weather the province is currently experiencing is perfect for harvesting. “The harvest is going well, but the actual volume of potatoes per acre is reduced, because without water, they simply didn’t grow,” says Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick President, Lisa Ashworth.
Concerning government assistance, Hemphill says existing programs have been so restricted that they no longer work for the potato industry. “Unfortunately, if you look at the 2018 growing season, we qualified for a program called AgriRecovery,” says Hemphill. “We checked all the boxes, right down to the fine print, and we were told ‘no’ by the current government.”
The AgriRecovery framework is a federal-provincial disaster relief program, under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which helps farmers recover from natural disasters. “There has to be some very serious conversations about how much producer income has declined,” says Ashworth. “And that may trigger payouts.”