by SUSAN MANN
Apple and tender fruit growers can get government funding to help pay for weather mitigation equipment as part of a reinstated government program announced this week.
Funding for the program comes from Growing Forward 2, the national federal/provincial/territorial agricultural framework. Ontario Apple Growers general manager Kelly Ciceran says the apple and tender fruit growers’ organizations asked for the governments to reinstate the weather mitigation program in Growing Forward 2 after funding for it was removed in April. The program was part of Growing Forward 2 since the national framework came into effect in 2013.
“We’ve been working with the government to have it (the weather mitigation program) reinstated,” she says. “We’re thrilled they (the governments) have responded so positively.”
The governments will pay up to 35 per cent of the costs for mitigation equipment, such as portable or fixed wind machines, heating and air movement devices, overhead irrigation systems and crop covers. Growers pay the remaining costs.
The maximum amount of funding per project is $31,500, according to an Ontario government Oct. 13 press release. The first intake is Oct. 22 to Nov. 5. There will be other opportunities during the next two years to submit applications, the release says.
The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association is administering the program and farmers can apply through that organization.
Ciceran says there’s a large interest among apple growers in weather mitigation technology. Some growers already have wind machines in their orchards. “Certainly, we need more machines to protect the crop as is evident by the 50 per cent crop loss this year.”
In a Sept. 30 Ontario Apple Growers press release, the organization notes a frost May 22 to 23 affected “many of the province’s apple growing regions” and is responsible for the decline in this year’s crop.
Ciceran says the organization doesn’t know how many growers will apply for the program but “we hope as many (farmers) as possible take advantage of it.” BF