by SUSAN MANN
Work to develop risk management programs for the province’s farmers is on track with proposals likely going before Ontario’s Treasury Board for approval early next month, farm leaders say.
Erin Fletcher, spokesperson for Grain Farmers of Ontario, says the program for grains and oilseeds, which has been in place as a pilot program since 2007 and then extended for one year last year, will get presented to Treasury Board with the other programs. “They all get treated the same.”
The programs for beef, pork, sheep, veal and the self-directed risk management program for edible horticulture will all go together “as one sort of big program with multiple components to it,” she says.
In the grains and oilseeds program, the structure and the way calculations are made won’t change, Fletcher explains, noting the organization’s representatives are currently working to calculate the cost of production numbers. But that is done every year.
There are a few minor details about the program that are being discussed, she says. But for farmers, the application process and how the program works will stay the same as the pilot.
Mark Wales, spokesman for the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, says there’s a separate working group for each commodity participating in the programs. They meet almost every seven days. “They’re going through all of the implementation details for each program.”
Wales says development of the horticulture program is going very well. “I would say that horticulture is probably ahead of the rest.”
Sarah Petrevan, spokesman for Ontario Agriculture Minister Carol Mitchell, says “everything is moving well. The commodity groups are working really hard and we’re pleased with how everything is going.”
Even though there is a provincial election this fall, Petrevan says “the program is not dependent on the election. Applications will be sent out by Agricorp and those can still go out in the fall.”
The ministry will have something to say on program details by mid-July, she says.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Bette Jean Crews says Mitchell told farm leaders the provincial government committed to funding the risk management programs because of lobbying by the Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition. “These commodities got together, agreed on all of this and designed these programs, gave it justification and everything else.”
Farm leaders and the agriculture ministry are working to complete the details for all of the programs by the end of this month, Crews says. “There was $100 million put in the (provincial) budget for it this year.”
Once the programs go before Treasury Board and they’re approved, then “it has to go to Agricorp to actually design the application forms,” she says, noting as far as she knows everything is on schedule.
Crews says the goal is to have the application process for farmers in place by late summer or early fall. BF