The existing Risk Management Program will receive an additional $50 million
By Jackie Clark
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Ernie Hardeman, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, came together to announce a $50-million expansion to the existing Risk Management Program. They made the announcement at Craven Farms in Chatham on July 16. The program covers eligible cattle, hog, veal, sheep, grain, oilseed and fruit and vegetable growers.
"Our government stands shoulder to shoulder with our farmers during these unprecedented times. As we chart a path to recovery, we will be there for our farmers and their workers to help them continue to put food on our tables," said Ford. "We committed to expanding this program in Year 3 of our mandate, but we are delivering on that commitment a year earlier than promised to provide more stability, income security and peace of mind for farmers, which is long overdue.”
Producers should contact Agricorp to discuss their eligibility for the Risk Management Program, which has reopened and will accept applications until midnight on July 30, according to a July 16 statement from the Ontario government.
"We're committed to providing our farmers with added support at this time and advocating on their behalf with the federal government to help them continue doing their critical work of producing safe, nutritious food for our kitchen tables," said Minister Hardeman.
The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) thanked Premier Ford and Minister Hardeman for their work advocating at the federal level for improvements on an accelerated timeline to deal with the challenges of 2020.
“We believe that this action will be significant and meaningful in addressing the additional risks, increased costs and market instability growers have been facing during the 2020 growing season,” said Bill George, chair of the OFVGA, in a July 16 statement.
Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) also released a statement on July 16 applauding Ford and Hardeman’s announcement.
“Today’s announcement comes at a critically important time as our sector struggles to combat COVID-induced volatility and losses,” said Rob Lipsett, BFO president. “BFO looks forward to continued discussions with the province on ways to further strengthen this important program to ensure stability and sustainability for our sector.”
Generally, the expansion of the Risk Management Program is good news for farmers in the province.
“With the impact that COVID had this year on a number of different commodities, it’s certainly welcome news,” Keith Currie, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, told Farms.com in an interview.
“The $50 million isn’t just for this year, it’s going to be continuing at $150 million going forward. The province has been good overall in how they’re trying to help the agriculture industry. They don’t have the deep pockets like the feds,” he said. The provinces “are now going to the federal government saying, ‘We’ve done our part.’”
Ontario government officials and agricultural groups are continuing to apply pressure to the federal government to give farmers the support they need during these exceptionally difficult times.
“The three general farm organizations in Ontario signed a letter in support of Minister Hardeman that went to the federal government saying, ‘It’s time you stepped up,’” Currie added.