MPP CLARK DETAILS HOW CHANGES WILL REDUCE RED TAPE FOR PRODUCERS WHO FILE DAMAGE CLAIMS FOR WILDLIFE PREDATION
BROCKVILLE – Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark toured an area beef farm today, highlighting how the Ontario government has made significant updates to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program to support farmers who lose livestock to predators.
“I’ve heard directly from farmers in Leeds and Grenville that changes were needed to make the process of getting compensation clearer and more transparent,” said Clark, during a tour of Eighth Line Farm near Athens with beef producer and co-owner Kim Sytsma.
“Our Government For the People has responded to those concerns to make sure the compensation program works for farmers when they lose livestock to predators, without adding extra red tape.”
Program updates announced by Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman include:
- More ways to provide sufficient evidence to prove wildlife predation.
- A more independent and transparent appeals process.
- Better training for municipal investigators to assess predation.
- Compensation that better reflects market prices.
These updates are effective for applications with a predation date on or after February 1, 2019. Training for municipal investigators will take place in February and March 2019.
“I was pleased by Minister Hardeman’s commitment to introduce a number of important improvements to the program and thank him and the government for taking swift action to find solutions to the many concerns raised by livestock farmers across the province,” said Sytsma, who sits on the Board of Directors of Beef Farmers of Ontario. “I would also like to thank our MPP Steve Clark for bringing the shortfalls of the previous program to Queen’s Park on our behalf. Farmers in Leeds and Grenville have a wonderful advocate in Steve. He has helped bring together a Coyote Working Group in our riding and helped facilitate new tools for livestock farmers to deal with predators.”
Sytsma said livestock farmers hope they never have to use the program.
“But when we do have to use it, we need a program that works and with the announced changes, we now have a better program to deal with these losses,” she said.
Clark agreed, pointing out, “The changes we have made will support fair compensation for eligible losses, which is part of what our government is doing to ensure the farmers who feed our province have the tools they need to stay in business.”
Additional program changes already took effect on September 4, 2018, including separate pricing for steers and heifers, and updates to the Farm Business Registration requirement.
MPP Clark also highlighted action Minister Hardeman has taken to assist corn farmers affected by high levels of Deoxynivalenol (DON) in this year’s corn crop.
The government has extended the Commodity Loan Guarantee Program (CLGP) repayment deadline from February 28 to September 30 for the 2018 and 2019 program years.
This extension will give producers affected by high levels of DON additional time to market their corn. There will be no additional application fees for the extension and producers can still pay off their loans (wholly or partially) at any time before the new September deadline.
The government is also increasing the maximum guaranteed loan limit under the CLGP from $120 million to $200 million for the 2019 and 2020 program years.
“Our government will continue to work closely with representatives from the grain sector, processors and other industry partners to develop solutions that will assist in providing relief for our farmers and the grain sector in dealing with this plant disease,” said Clark.
Farmers with Agricultural Credit Corporation (ACC) loans are encouraged to contact the ACC to discuss eligibility and next steps by visiting www.agcreditcorp.ca or calling 1-888-278-8807.
Farming and agri-business is vital to our rural economies and our way of life, stressed Clark, which is why the government is committed to reducing the red tape and regulatory burden to make it easier for farmers to do business, while maintaining standards to keep Ontarians safe and healthy.