Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) says it is making headway in its goal to find more government funds for members.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is now acting as an advocate for the request and is taking the message to the federal government, says Markus Haerle, chair of the board of Grain Farmers of Ontario.
GFO has recently released its second advertisement as part of the campaign. It is similar to the controversial first advertisement, heavily criticizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, while questioning the strength of the food system and Canadian food sovereignty. It features Ford as a supporter of grain farmers.
Why it matters: Grain farmers have not been able to access farm support programs, despite lower grain prices.
Haerle says Ford is “actually acknowledging the situation. He mentioned to us that he will champion the ask towards the federal government. It’s important to show that with the ad. He’s a good advocate.”
Ford, however, has not agreed to move up the planned increase in the cap for the Ontario Risk Management Program. He campaigned on the increase and has said it will come in year three of the party’s mandate.
“He’s entertaining the possibility of moving that up, but we do not have a timeframe when that will happen,” says Haerle.
He says GFO is consulting with federal officials and expects higher level meetings soon.
“Part of that is Premier Ford doing his work.”
GFO hired Nick Kouvalis and Campaign Research Inc. to conduct a research survey with its members. The campaign is based on that research. Kouvalis is a political consultant and former chief of staff to Ford’s brother Rob, the former mayor of Toronto.
GFO has the Sussex Strategy Group, a government relations firm, on retainer as well.
Haerle says the request to the federal government is to fund the Risk Management Program (RMP). The RMP is an Ontario-specific program which covers grains and oilseeds, beef, hog, veal and sheep production and is based on cost of production and mitigates fluctuations in the marketplace.
Most farm support programs are split with 40 per cent funding from provinces and 60 per cent from the federal government, but the federal government has never signed on, meaning the RMP is underfunded.
“It addresses the need,” says Haerle. “We’re losing money by putting a crop in the ground.”
There are federal-provincial government support programs for farmers, including AgriStability, AgriInvest and AgriRecovery. Many farmers don’t use the programs because they rarely pay out when farmers need them.
The new version of the video can be seed at the GFO Facebook page.