OTTERVILLE – Don’t count on a mass exodus to fields of potatoes, sweet corn or strawberries just yet but there are signs these may soon be attractive alternatives for beleaguered tobacco growers throughout Southwestern Ontario.
Tobacco growers opting to take a federal government buyout for their quota can't return to the industry, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada confirms.
This week, the federal government collected fines and civil compensation from tobacco companies totaling $1.15 billion for orchestrating a cigarette smuggling operation in the 1990s, and promptly passed on a little more than $300 million to hardpressed growers and tobacco belt communities. Provincial agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky says nobody told her about the buyout and she strongly disagrees with the way it is being financed.
They have signed a cost sharing deal for one portion. But as the federal and provincial governments’ ministers of agriculture laud their progress on the Growing Forward agricultural framework this week, details about how they will approach the resolution of the other major portion of the framework – business risk management programs are sketchy.
The results of an audit on Agricorp show some serious deficiencies and should be followed up with an investigation into how such a situation could have developed, says a Lindsay area farmer.
Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter is expected to release his report on Agricorp next month, says a spokesperson.
The province is finalizing details on how to use $110,000 of provincial funds to process meat products from a sow cull and get it to Ontario food banks.
Farm groups say Ontario Minister of Agriculture Leona Dombrowsky has given an “ironclad guarantee” that agriculture will be exempt when the province, under pressure from environmental groups, moves to ban the use of pesticides from lawns and gardens this spring.
If you’re a tobacco grower wanting to exit the industry, don’t expect any new exit programs from the federal government.
LONDON - Ontario’s agriculture minister is urging farmers to take advantage of a risk management program (RMP) designed specifically for grains and oilseeds producers.