Farming crisis has expanding impact

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Supply industry feeling crunch alongside farmers

The continued crisis in the agriculture industry has taken a toll on more than just farmers.

Fewer farms and smaller operations have had a trickle down effect on other segments of the industry, namely those companies that have supplied local farmers with everything from feed, to fertilizer, to equipment.

The continued crisis in the agriculture industry has taken a toll on more than just farmers.

Fewer farms and smaller operations have had a trickle down effect on other segments of the industry, namely those companies that have supplied local farmers with everything from feed, to fertilizer, to equipment.

"We've seen a fairly significant impact, especially in the last five or six years," Bernie Brennan of Fort Equipment said. "When I purchased the company in the early 1980s the majority of my business was farm-related, now it's just a fraction."

For years, companies such as Fort Equipment in Fort Lawrence and J&P Farm Services in East Amherst were booming as the agriculture industry, once the backbone of the Cumberland County economy, thrived.

That was until a series of events through the late 1990s and early in the new millennium, dominated by the BSE crisis in the beef industry and the all but abandonment of the hog industry by both the federal and provincial governments.

For Brennan's company that has resulted in fewer farmers coming through the doors to purchase supplies and fewer sales of equipment such as tractors, bailers and tillers. To offset those losses, Fort Equipment has switched gears to house and garden supplies.

J&P Farm Services manager Doug Carey said the downtown in the agriculture industry has forced his company to rethink his own business.

"At one time our business was completely agricultural. Now it's mostly home and garden, the bird-feeding business and dogs and cats," Carey said. "Our allotment we used to have for agriculture is down to about 20 per cent. It's been slowly eroding and it's something that everytime you put a straw across the camel's back eventually you come to one that's going to break it."

Carey said many in the farming industry he talked to hoped the BSE crisis would come and go. While many wanted to hold on until the crisis past, Carey said, there have been too many other hits for them to take and it has forced a lot of good farmers out of the business without any younger farmers taking their place.

"Eventually decisions have to be made to either stay or go and a lot have left," he said.



dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Fort Lawrence and J&P Farm Services

Geographic location: East Amherst, Cumberland County

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