Over the past several weeks MP Cheryl Gallant has been meeting with farmers, suppliers and monitoring sale prices. “From Arnprior to Whitney and almost every area in between, crops are failing”, she observed. “The livestock producers are particularly desperate as they cannot find hay to feed their animals. The little that does become available is at a hugely inflated price.”
While visiting John Mastine’s Bar J-M ranch in Whitney I was told how extraordinary the drought effects are since decades of genetics would be lost if breeding cattle are forced to go to slaughter. “This is worse than BSE” declared Mastine.
I have spoken directly to Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz about the drought situation. He emphasized that the 1st line of defence is always crop insurance. “There are a number of programs available to farmers that can ensure that they are supported when difficult situations like this one arise such as Crop Insurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest”, advised Minister Ritz. The federal government provides funding to the province for the insurance and Ontario administers it through Agricorp. The province has the ability to accelerate those payments. As a last line of defence, the AgriRecovery program is also available in disaster situations.
Minister Ritz told me that “Working closely with provincial officials, we are assessing the scope of the situation and the need for AgriRecovery. As of right now, it is too early to assess actual crop damage and production levels as the growing season is ongoing. While arbitrary time frames have been referenced in the media, farmers can be assured that all parties are working as cooperatively and quickly as possible within the confines of the situation. The Harper Government has always been there for Ontario farmers and we will continue to be.”
Our Conservative Government has listened to farmers since first forming government. Together with producers we developed a suite of programs to help when severe conditions strike. “I will continue to work with those affected as we work through this difficult situation,” confirmed Gallant.