The changes are a ’step in the right direction,’ says GFO chair
By Jackie Clark
Recently, the government of Ontario announced that it would improve the Commodity Loan Guarantee Program to help farmers purchase inputs. These improvements, however, are a short-term fix, says Brendan Byrne, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO).
“The Commodity Loan Guarantee Program's loan repayment deadlines are being permanently extended from February 28 to September 30 to better align repayment dates with the growing season. The extended deadlines will reduce paperwork and costs for farmers who would otherwise have to transfer their loans to other financing options until the sale of their crops,” said a Feb. 11 press release from the Government of Ontario. “The program's maximum guaranteed loan limit is also being permanently increased from $120 million to $200 million to allow extended loan repayment deadlines and accommodate an increase in lending capacity.”
The goal of these changes is to allow for greater flexibility for farmers.
“When the government first extended the repayment deadlines and raised the loan limits last year, GFO acknowledged that this is a good first step to helping farmers through crises, including COVID-19, trade disruptions, and more,” Byrne told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “Recently, the government of Ontario made those changes permanent.”
Those changes are “a step in the right direction, increasing the potential of farm debt, which Statistics Canada reports is growing, is a treatment with potentially dire consequences to Ontario’s farmers, not a cure,” he added.
The Commodity Loan Guarantee Program is just one issue that the government needs to address to help grain farmers.
“The Ontario government has put in place many of the programs we require with increased funding to risk management programs, and removal of red tape for the tools and inputs farmers need,” Byrne explained. “We hope that they will continue to advocate for us as the federal level as well to push for carbon tax exemptions, better risk management support and new export market development.”
Zoran Zeremski\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo