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Drought relief funds for Ont. farms

Drought relief funds for Ont. farms

BFO and AgriCorp will help administer funding from the Ontario government to help producers in the Rainy River and Kenora regions

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

Last week, Lisa Thompson, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, met with farmers and ag industry representatives to hear about the severity of drought conditions in northwestern regions of the province. 

This week, the Ontario government is taking action, providing $2 million in funding for the effort, according to a July 27 release. The announcement was made by Thompson and Greg Rockford, minister of northern development, mines, natural resources and forestry. 

“The Northwestern Livestock Emergency Assistance Initiative will help livestock farms in northwestern Ontario by addressing critical urgent needs identified by area farmers. Up to $800,000 will be provided to Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) to help deal with the immediate feed shortages on behalf of all impacted farmers in the region,” said the statement. “An additional $1.2 million will be made available to area farmers for emergency measures to source water for livestock and to purchase and install new fencing to allow livestock to safely graze in alternative locations.”

Funds are available to producers who incurred eligible costs due to drought, retroactive to June 14, and the program will be delivered through AgriCorp. 

“We’re working closely with BFO and our service delivery agent, AgriCorp, to provide this support immediately,” Thompson said. 

BFO appreciates the swift action to help farmers in Rainy River and Kenora, according to a July 27 release from the organization. 

“While a number of areas in Ontario have been dealing with dry conditions impacting feed inventories, farmers in the Rainy River and Kenora Districts have been plagued by late frosts, persistent heat and lack of rain throughout this year's growing season, which have decimated their pastures and hay crops,” said the statement. “Farmers in the area are currently making difficult herd inventory decisions, which will have a long-term impact on the current infrastructure supporting the regions' livestock sector.”

BFO is prepared to administer immediate relief, said Rob Lipsett, BFO president. 

The immediate assistance is key to support farmers’ operations and businesses, but also their mental health, said Ontario Federation of Agiculture president Peggy Brekveld in a July 27 statement. 

“Farmers expressed serious concerns and illustrated the severity of the crisis during an industry roundtable last week hosted by OFA, BFO and Grain Farmers of Ontario. It evolved into an emergency situation caused by crops burning off, pastures drying out, and in some cases, minimal access to water resulting in immediate sell-off of livestock,” said the OFA statement. The organization “was pleased to hear Minister Rickford confirm that farmers facing similar circumstances in nearby regions may be considered for support. We will continue working together with the provincial government and industry partners to address the needs of our northern farmers.”

Diane Kuhl\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo

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