by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Ontario farm groups remain hopeful they will convince the federal government to help fund a new provincial production farm risk management program.
In a Tuesday news release, Ontario beef, pork and grains and oilseed farmers congratulated the federal Conservatives on their election win and urged them to commit to funding a share of the Ontario Risk Management Program.
However, in February, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced his party had no intention of making fundamental changes to the business risk management programs that are currently included in the five-year national agricultural policy framework.
The policy expires in 2013 but Ontario farm groups want to see changes sooner than that.
“It’s not going to be easy,” to convince the Conservatives to change their minds and embrace the program endorsed by the Ontario government in March, says Leo Guilbeault, chair of the Ontario Grains & Oilseeds committee.
“We’re going to keep plugging away; we have to,” he says. “Risk management; we know it works in Ontario and we know it’s a different animal federally across the country so we’re going to sit back and maybe re-analyze our strategy and then go to work from there.”
Another challenge the group has on its hands is convincing farmers to enroll in the industry-developed program. Numbers from Agricorp, the provincial crown corporation that runs the program for Ontario's grains and oilseeds farmers, show only 5,900 enrolled in the program in 2010. That’s a drop of more than half from the 12,200 that enrolled when the pilot was first launched in 2007.
“It has a lot to do with the (high) market prices right now,” says Guilbeault, noting, “there’s quite a bit of difference” from when the program was first proposed. “Now there’s going to be a full-time program, we’ll have some triggers in there that will hopefully keep participation up.”
“Prices aren’t going to stay where they’re at,” he predicts.
Along with grains and oilseeds, the provincially-funded program will cover cattle, hog, sheep and veal producers and offer a self-directed risk management program for fruits and vegetables. BF