Volume 13, Number 12 February 24, 2006

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Furtan suggests society must decide importance of the farming sector

A U of S agricultural economist is calling on society to rethink the value it places on the farming sector and decide if it deserves more financial support.

Speaking to at Footprint of the Farm, a public forum presented by the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy Feb. 22, Hartley Furtan said society must face the apparent lack of economic viability of grain and oilseed production, even though historically, prairie agriculture has been seen to be successful.

“Many farm families feel a growing despair that they simply can not make a living through farming,” Furtan said in a news release.  “If the sector is not important enough to warrant more financial support, let the market process take its course and we will have fewer farm families with less grain and oilseed production.  If it is the families we care about, we need to consider new policies such as a guaranteed annual income for farmers.”

Having studied data from Statistic Canada’s 2003 Farm Financial Survey, Furtan concluded that on average, after all reasonable expenses had been charged, there was no market income earned by farmers in Saskatchewan in that year.  The future, according to Furtan, does not look bright for the family farm.

“Over three-quarters of farm household income is earned off the farm.  Governments continue to provide financial support, yet farms are still in dire financial straits.”

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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