The message reflects the sentiments of grain producers, the organization says
By Diego Flammini
Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) has released a new campaign designed to show the lack of government support for grain producers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ad, titled “Canada’s Food Supply Chain is Breaking,” outlines how farmers are being asked to shoulder more risk and go further in debt while other industries are receiving financial assistance amid the global crisis.
The messaging in the campaign reflects how Ontario grain producers feel.
The organization surveyed its members just over a month ago. The results showed great concern for the viability of family farms without proper support from the provincial or federal governments.
GFO used the information from the survey to shape its ad campaign, said Markus Haerle, the organization’s chair.
“We got about 1,000 responses and it showed that farmers feel there’s a lack of government acknowledgement of the issues that pertain to grain,” he told Farms.com. “The fear is that farmers are losing credibility in the eyes of the government and there’s going to be a financial impact that’s going to last for a long time.”
The federal government has announced support for other ag industries.
The $252 million in funding will help processors, beef, pork and dairy farmers. But none of that money will help grain producers, Haerle said.
In its ad, GFO compares the COVID-19 response in the U.S. to the Canadian government’s actions.
The Trump administration announced US$19 billion (CAD$26.6 billion) in financial assistance for American farmers.
Under the U.S. policy, Haerle, who farms about 2,000 acres in Prescott-Russell, would receive a payment of about $100,000, he said.
Instead, he and other grain producers are wondering if any help is coming at all.
“The price of corn has collapsed, the ethanol industry has collapsed and we’re standing all alone,” Haerle said. “The grain industry is essential as a food source and for animal production, who rely on the sector to provide the raw inputs.”
GFO hopes the provincial government can work with the federal government to ensure grain producers are taken care of, Haerle said.
“I had a conversation with Premier Ford when we briefed him about the campaign,” he said. “As an Ontario commodity group, we have dialogue with the federal government but it’s always a push back. It’s proof to us that we had to go above and beyond (Minister Hardeman) and address it with the premier so he becomes our advocate because I believe he has a stronger push and pull with the feds than Minister Hardeman does.”