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Producers wanted for OFA wildlife crop damage survey

Producers wanted for OFA wildlife crop damage survey

The OFA plans to use the data to lobby government to create a new program for farmers

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is looking for members to participate in a wildlife crop damage survey.

At its 2018 annual general meeting, the organization passed a resolution to lobby the government to create a wildlife protection program for crop producers since one already exists for livestock producers.

The survey, which is open to OFA members only, is the first step in the overall lobbying process, said Ben Lefort, a senior farm policy analyst with the OFA.

“If we’re going to ask for a compensation program, we need to get a handle on what the dollar volume is in terms of damage,” he told Farms.com. “We have a good amount of data, and we did write to (former) minister of agriculture (Ernie) Hardeman to lobby for this kind of program. But the more information we can get to provide to government will only help.”

OFA has been conducting the wildlife crop damage surveys since it passed the resolution in 2018.

Three years of results show varied levels of damage, Lefort said.

“It levels differ by type of producer and geographic location,” he said. “But what we do hear from farmers is that the damage is consistent year over year. A farmer who has damage to crops this year is likely to have damage to crops next year.”

It’s because of these factors a wildlife crop protection program is necessary.

Crop insurance and AgriStabiilty payments, for example are based on five-year averages.

Those don’t consider the annual issues crop producers run into with wildlife, Lefort said.

“Crop insurance is designed to provide compensation for non-consistent damages, damage that happens every so often, not every year,” he said.

In Ontario, livestock producers have access to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program.

When a livestock producer contacts OMAFRA about wildlife damage, an investigator conducts an investigation to verify wildlife included in the coverage is responsible for the damage.

Other provinces, like Manitoba and Saskatchewan, already have wildlife crop damage protection programs.

The OFA will be looking at a collection of programs to help shape any potential Ontario support for crop producers, Lefort said.

“The model of how livestock is compensated in Ontario could work for crops too,” he said. “There are other programs we can look at too to see how compensation is determined.”

OFA members interested in participating in the survey can contact Lefort.


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