Northwestern Ontario farmers to receive emergency drought support

(File photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

The Ontario government is providing up to $2 million in emergency funding to farmers in northwestern Ontario to help them acquire feed, water and basic livestock needs due to the ongoing drought conditions in the area.

The Northwestern Livestock Emergency Assistance Initiative will help livestock farms in the the Kenora-Rainy River district by addressing critical urgent needs identified by area farmers. Up to $800,000 will be provided to Beef Farmers of Ontario to help deal with the immediate feed shortages on behalf of all impacted farmers in the region.

An additional $1.2 million will be made available to area farmers for emergency measures to source water for livestock and to purchase and install new fencing to allow livestock to safely graze in alternative locations. Delivery of this initiative will be made through AgriCorp. The financial assistance will be available to livestock farmers for eligible costs incurred as a result of the dry weather from June 14, 2021 onwards.

The funding was announced by Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) Lisa Thompson, and Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry at a press conference July 27.

Thompson said she met virtually with farmers in the region in a meeting hosted by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) last week. She said the discussion “clearly demonstrated the seriousness of this situation, and it helped to inform and identify the type of support that was needed immediately.”

“It really hit home,” she said.

Farmers should expect to receive an email or another “application of sorts” from BFO within a week, BFO’s director-at-large Kim Jo Bliss said at the conference.

The funding addresses immediate, short-term measures and Thompson said she will continue to work with her provincial and federal counterparts on longer-term solutions through the AgriRecovery program.

Federal agriculture minister Marie Claude Bibeau announced July 22 that producers in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario would be eligible for a tax deferral program being set up to allow beef producers forced to sell a significant amount of their breeding herd to offset revenues with costs to replace the herd.

Bibeau is also trying to adjust the AgriInsurance program so that drought-damaged crops can be made available for feed. The change is designed to increase the amount of crops available for livestock producers, and Bibeau said she is working with the provinces to allow for this to happen.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have requested AgriRecovery programs be put in place to alleviate the drought damage.

-With files from D.C. Fraser, Glacier Farmmedia

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