by SUSAN MANN
The provincial agriculture ministry has asked Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to launch a formal assessment process under the AgriRecovery framework for farmers who lost their crops after spring floods in the Holland Marsh.
On May 25 and then again on June 16, about 130 acres of carrot and onion crops in the Horlings Marsh-Bradford area of the marsh were flooded with more than a metre of water when the area’s dyke failed.
Farmers have said it is now too late to try to establish another planting and crops for the year have been lost.
In a July 4 letter to federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Wynne says “the assessment will help us to fully understand the impact of this situation on producers in the area (Horlings Marsh) and how best to respond to ensure that they are able to emerge from this challenge and thrive in the future.”
She also told Ritz she appreciates his “support in addressing this request as quickly as possible.”
AgriRecovery is a risk management framework jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments designed to provide targeted assistance to farmers facing specific disasters, such as from weather or disease.
The province has also given the Town of Bradford West Gwillimbury an emergency declaration under the Drainage Act so it can move quickly to fix the Horlings Dyke.
The ministry administers the Act and without the emergency declaration it’s a two to three year process for the town to get the proper permits and approvals from various agencies to fix and maintain the dyke.
Gabrielle Gallant, Premier and Agriculture Minister Kathleen Wynne’s spokesperson, says by email ministry officials worked with the town to assess the situation and now that the declaration has been granted the town can proceed with the work “under the supervision of an engineer and with the support of affected property owners.”
Gallant says in the email the “flooding has had a significant impact on an unique area of Ontario that is so important to our agri-food industry.”
As for more recent flooding in Chatham Kent, Gallant says the ministry and Agricorp are in contact with farmers in that area. “Just as we are in Bradford, ministry staff are working with the landowners to see how existing programs may be brought to bear to assist them to recover from these unfortunate situations.”
She says the government has a variety of insurance and risk management programs available for producers to help them deal with adverse weather conditions.
South Huron County, west Elgin County and southwest Middlesex and Lambton Counties have also experienced flooding due to recent rains. Gallant says ministry staff haven’t gotten back to her yet as to if they are in contact with farmers in those areas. BF