by SUSAN MANN
The safe and successful completion of the 2014 harvest tops the list of Christmas wishes for Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Don McCabe.
“This has been kind of a draggy year and I think everybody wants to get it to an end,” he says, adding he just finished harvest on his Lambton County farm last week. He grows corn, soybeans and wheat. This year’s crop production seemed to be very drawn out right from planting.
In his area “we had a very slow start to planting and therefore we were always looking for some heat to help catch us up but we never got it, while in other portions of the province they got off to a good start but then frost came along and kicked them pretty hard,” he notes. The frost resulted in some crop downgrades “this fall, which is always disappointing and hard on the cheque book.”
McCabe says he also wants to see the provincial and federal governments work in a productive fashion with the country’s economic driver – the agricultural industry.
He also wished that all farmers were able to find time to enjoy family and friends over the Christmas season “and that all their wishes for their family and friends come true in the coming months.”
Lorne Small, who was recently returned as Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario president for a fourth year, says he’d like to wish all “of our members a very merry Christmas and a very prosperous year to come. Let’s hope for strong prices, good yields and the kind of weather we can live and work with.”
The weather during the past three years has been difficult to work with – being either too dry or too wet. “It is about time we had a normal year that takes us away from the weather aggravations that we’ve had to deal with,” he says, adding while there were pretty decent yields and good prices, particularly in the red meat sector, the 2014 crop year has been really challenging for farmers.
Ontario Pork chair Amy Cronin says she wishes farmers “an opportunity to enjoy the Christmas season” and that they are able to spend time with the people who are close to them so they can enjoy the fruits of their labour. For 2015, “I would wish Ontario farmers health and prosperity.”
Ray Duc, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, says the neonicotinoid matter has the potential to drive a wedge in agriculture and pit farmers and sectors against each other. “My wish is all stakeholders keep and open mind and come to the table to find a solution that everybody can work with.”
LeaAnne Wuermli, communications manager with Beef Farmers of Ontario, says a major item on their Christmas wish list is continued momentum for the beef cow herd expansion pilot project. The first phase of the project has been completed. It included an economic model that will be shared with beef farmers at county annual meetings in January and discussed at Beef Farmers’ annual meeting in February.
She says for the project Beef Farmers had to first determine if it was economically feasible to expand in northern Ontario. The model shows the northern expansion “is feasible and needed for our industry to expand and grow.”
In the new year, Beef Farmers will start on phase two and look for collaboration and support from government, industry leaders, northern municipalities and farmers. This phase will focus on “how we proceed from here,” she says, adding they will be looking at programs and what’s needed “to make it happen.”
The project’s goal is to increase the province’s cow herd by 100,000 head over the long term. The herd is currently at about 300,000 head. The project includes opening new lands in the Great Clay Belt in northern Ontario for beef production.
Grain Farmers of Ontario chair Henry Van Ankum and Karen Eatwell, National Farmers Union – Ontario president and Region 3 coordinator, couldn’t be reached for comment. BF