Ont. farmers push for improved risk management funding

Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition Farm group wants Risk Management Program cap increased to $175 million by 2018

DRESDEN, Ontario — Without a commitment from the federal government, Ontario farmers are looking for a larger provincial contribution to the province’s Risk Management Program.

With the province in the midst of an election, Henry Van Ankum, chair of the Ontario Agriculture Sustainability Coalition, said it’s an ideal time to make the push to increase the program cap.

Van Ankum spoke about the lobby effort as he prepared to leave his farm north of Guelph to address a gathering of farmers and candidates at Campbellford, Ont., three hours away.

“I’m looking at a machine right now I should be working on, but this is an opportunity to make sure government is aware of how important this program is . . . Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in this province,” said Van Ankum, who farms 1,200 acres of corn, wheat and soybeans near Alma, Ont.

“We hear a lot about the fiscal realities of the province right now and we do understand the challenges of the provincial treasury. That’s why we’re proposing doing this over three years.”

Ankum said maintaining the $100 million program cap will leave Ontario farmers vulnerable if prices slip below profitable levels for one or more commodities.

His organization wants the cap to be increased in stages to $175 million by 2018.

The sustainability coalition represents about 50,000 Ontario farmers operating outside of the supply management sector. Coalition members include the Grain Farmers of Ontario and organizations representing beef, pork, sheep and veal producers in the province.

A commitment from the federal government is another way to improve Ontario’s Risk Management Program, said Van Ankum. In the past, similar programs have operated under 60-40, federal/provincial split.

The federal government, however, has only been willing to maintain the AgriStability and AgriInvest programs.

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