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Hardeman announces ag program changes

Hardeman announces ag program changes

The new rules affect the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Ontario’s new ag minister has unveiled changes to a livestock compensation program.

Updates to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (OWDCP) will help livestock producers receive fairer payments faster, Ernie Hardeman said.

“We heard livestock farmers’ concerns with the program, so we’re making the first changes effective immediately,” he said in a statement today. “We’re also continuing to consult with farmers to ensure changes we make are meaningful and effective.”

The changes pertain to the Farm Business Registration Number (FBRN) requirement and the standardized pricing scheme.

OMAFRA updated the FBRN requirement to allow farmers to apply for the program if they have a valid FBRN number in the current or previous year, or a valid exemption.

OMAFRA also separated pricing based on specific livestock characteristics including weight. Producers could also receive premiums based on pregnancies. Previously, the ag ministry may have assigned compensation based on evidence provided in program applications.

But lack of evidence played prominently into why OMAFRA denied some claims.

About 283 farmers did not receive compensation in 2017 due to insufficient evidence, Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) says.

The organization resolved at its 2018 annual general meeting to ask the government to make the OWDCP more transparent.

BFO is pleased with the government’s decisions regarding the program.

“We are encouraged by Minister Hardeman’s swift response to begin addressing some of the concerns that have been raised by farmers and industry with respect to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program,” Joe Hill, president of BFO, said in a statement today. “We have heard loud and clear from our membership that the current operation of the program is producing frustrating and unpredictable results.”

Ontario Sheep Farmers and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture also released statements supporting Minister Hardeman’s announcement.