Ontario announces drought support for livestock producers

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

The Government of Ontario has announced up to $2 million to assist with emergency measures for feed, water, and basic needs for livestock in the Rainy River and Kenora Districts.

The Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) will administer up to $800,000 of the Northwestern Livestock Emergency Assistance Initiative to help deal with the immediate feed shortages on behalf of all impacted farmers in the region.

An additional $1.2 million will be made available to area farmers for emergency measures to source water for livestock and to purchase and install new fencing to allow livestock to safely graze in alternative locations, the government says. Delivery of this initiative will be made through AgriCorp, with financial assistance made available to livestock farmers for eligible costs incurred as a result of the dry weather from June 14, 2021 onwards.

BFO says that while a number of areas in Ontario have been dealing with dry conditions impacting feed inventories, farmers in the Rainy River and Kenora Districts have been plagued by late frosts, persistent heat, and lack of rain throughout this year’s growing season, which have decimated their pastures and hay crops. Farmers in the area are currently making difficult herd inventory decisions, which will have a long-term impact on the current infrastructure supporting the regions’ livestock sector.

“Over the last several weeks we have been assessing the situation and meeting with government to discuss potential assistance for farmers in drought-stricken regions of the province. We’ve also been hearing many heart-wrenching stories from our members in the Rainy River and Kenora Districts of the devastating impact the extreme weather conditions have been having on their crops, cattle and mental health,” says Rob Lipsett, BFO president. “BFO is prepared to do what we need to do to administer immediate relief for our farmers who are in desperate need of feed to ensure their animals are well cared for during such a trying time.”

Ontario Sheep Farmers says this funding will provide much-needed supports for sheep producers at this critical time. “We know the current drought situation in northwestern Ontario is critical, as farmers are facing serious challenges sourcing water and feed for their livestock,” says OSF.

“These supports are vital and must continue to be made available to address urgent situations like the northwestern Ontario drought,” says Marc Carere, OSF chair. “We will work with our farmers, other industry organizations, and the provincial and federal governments to help those experiencing the drought right now. And we will continue to find solutions that support our producers, especially in times of crisis.”

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