Ontario calls on feds to declare drought a disaster situation
Published Tuesday, July 31, 2012 5:45PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 31, 2012 6:43PM EDT
Eastern Ontario farmers hit hard by drought are desperately searching for help from the government.
Tuesday they heard Ontario’s Agriculture Minister announce there would be no new money from the province. Instead, Ted McMeekin said the federal government needs to declare the region a disaster area to speed up funds available through existing programs.
“The crops are clearly stressed and there are areas in the province that are in a drought situation,” said McMeekin. “This appears to be one of them, so we’re working with the feds to do some further assessment.”
Farmers say that’s a start but it’s not exactly what they wanted to hear.
“They need to announce some quick funding – some sort of loan program like they have in the U.S.A,” said John Van Gendren.
Beef producer Dwight Foster said part of the problem with the announcement is that the existing programs the minister referred to are insurance programs that not all farmers are enrolled in.
Foster said “you can’t buy crop insurance for beef production” and wonders what’s in it for him.
Still, the head of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association says this may be a tough lesson for eligible farmers who simply chose not to buy in.
“You pay car insurance and house insurance and nobody likes it,” said association head Dan Darling. “But if there is a fire or wreck it’s the same situation here.”
Many farmers said they’ve opted out of the government programs in the past because it hasn’t been worth it for them.