The Ontario government has come through a year earlier than expected with an additional $50 million for the provincial Risk Management Program (RMP).
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement today at Craven Farms in Chatham-Kent, as he visited farms and processors in the area.
Why it matters: Several areas of Ontario agriculture have taken hits due to COVID-19 and the Risk Management Program as it was didn’t cover losses.
“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 Premier 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.”
About 80 per cent of eligible production of cattle, hog, sheep, veal, grains and oilseeds, and edible horticulture sectors in Ontario is covered by the Risk Management Program. The program has been funded since it was created at $100 million.
The program is only funded by Ontario and the federal government has never signed onto it. As a result, even if it was fully funded by the province, it would still only be about 40 per cent of what it should be to fully function.
In making the announcement at Craven Farms, Ford called on the federal government to fund the Risk Management Program and to improve AgriStability.
“Today’s announcement comes at a critically important time as our sector struggles to combat COVID-induced volatility and losses,” says Rob Lipsett, president of Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO). “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.”
There will not be an increase in premiums for farmers and unused money in the fund will be held over and could be used in future years.
There will not be a requirement to link the RMP to other support programs such as AgriStability. There has, in the past, been challenges by program funding being clawed back when other programs paid out.
Applications to the RMP have been reopened for new applications and will stay open until July 30.
“The province’s continued commitment to RMP and support for Ontario’s grain farmers is vital to the health of Ontario’s food supply chain during the COVID pandemic and future recovery,” said Markus Haerle, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario.
““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 Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.