by SUSAN MANN
Ontario’s beef and pork farmers are asking governments to help fund their insurance program proposals that would protect them against market price fluctuations.
Ontario Pork and the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association launched their joint campaign Tuesday to enlist government and public support of their risk management programs. The proposal calls for farmers to pay premiums of 30 per cent of the long-term cost of the insurance program, while the remaining 70 per cent would be split between the federal and provincial governments on a 60/40 per cent basis.
The groups are looking for the province to act immediately to fund its share of the program.
LeaAnne Hodgins, Ontario Cattlemen’s communications manager, says they’re hoping with elections on the horizon they can work with both the federal and provincial governments and get agreements for funding. “We’ll work with them to flesh out the program.”
There’s an urgent need to implement the program, she says, noting they’d like to see a funding announcement by early next year.
The programs would be voluntary and all 19,000 beef producers and all 2,600 pork producers in Ontario would be eligible to participate.
Hodgins says for beef there are different programs for each sector: cow-calf, background and feedlot. To participate, farmers must adopt some mandatory production practices. For example, in the cow-calf program the cow herd would have to be vaccinated with modified live vaccine annually.
Wilma Jeffray, Ontario Pork chair, says in a press release the program would offset the difference between the current market price and the average long-term cost of production. It would also eliminate the need for ad hoc government support for both the beef and pork industries.
Keith Robbins, Ontario Pork communications director, says the pork and beef proposals were presented individually to Ontario Agriculture Minister Carol Mitchell in September. Now the groups have to work out further details with the ministry. “It’s a very long process to get financial measures in place like this.”
Sarah Petrevan, Ontario agriculture ministry spokesperson, says they’re “continuing to work with them to refine their industry-led proposals.” But “we’re not in a position to commit to a timeline at this point.”
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says in an email his government “will never put farmers at risk by funding programs that are countervailable or put one sector or region over another.” But with Growing Forward provinces have lots of flexibility to direct money for regionally specific programs, he says.
Information and updates on the programs is at: www.beefporkrmp.ca .BF