Drought-impacted farmers will be able to access cost-sharing for long term solutions
By Jackie Clark
Today, the Ontario government announced that funds will be made available for farmers impacted by drought in northwestern Ontario to drill wells and construct ponds.
“Ontario will provide up to fifty per cent in cost-share funding for well improvement, pond expansion and/or construction to eligible farmers in the Kenora, Rainy River and Thunder Bay areas, up to a maximum of $15,000 per farm,” said the Sept. 22 announcement from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
“Last week I visited farmers in northwest Ontario … I saw firsthand the urgent need to provide assistance with drilling new wells and modifying ponds,” said Lisa Thompson, minister of OMAFRA in the release. “Quickly providing this targeted support will help impacted farms access a permanent and much-needed water supply that will ensure the short- and long-term success of the farm’s operation.”
“Today’s announcement had people texting me very quickly, very happy,” Peggy Brekveld, a farmer in Thunder Bay and president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, told Farms.com.
“We have had a bit of rain but the wells and creeks and waterways are low or dry,” she explains. This funding will be helpful “because it’s about finding long-term answers, especially during the winter when we have freezing conditions.”
Farmers in the region “have had lower rainfalls for a few years and the water table will take a while to regenerate, even if we get a lot of rain now,” she added. “These are long term solutions, and we’re very thankful.”
Funding is retroactive to eligible costs incurred since June 14.
“Eligible farmers can apply for the Northwestern Ontario Drought Assistance Initiative through Agricorp. Applications open later this month and run until January 31, 2022,” according to the release.
Farmers in the areas impacted by drought had received some immediate assistance through the Northwestern Ontario Drought Assistance Initiative since the initial announcement in late July but were looking for longer-term solutions.
“The reaction is very positive,” says Brekveld. “There’s hope, at a time when we were looking at going into winter with no water, and now potentially we’ll be able to drill and have a source going forward.”
Many farmers are already making plans to try to install wells and ponds before winter hits, she added.
"AgriRecovery has been a blessing," she said. Producers are grateful for the “fact that the minister heard us when we talked about potential solutions, and then found one.”
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