Forgotten from the countryside, farmers in Ontario are hoping for more help

Over the past two weeks he has planted seeds worth nearly $ 600,000 and he is preparing for a summer of hard work. Despite his busy schedule, the former president of the Ontario Grain Growers ’Association wants to stay up to date on how the election campaign and party platforms are. So far, what he sees is not encouraging.

I feel like I’ve really forgotten. Farming should be mentioned at least once a day, but so far from all I have heard, I have never heard of farming. »

A quote from Markus Haerle, owner of Chicken Little Farm

Farmers in Eastern Ontario are facing huge challenges and are asking for government help. Lack of manpower is a long-standing problem that has only worsened over the years.

Chicken Little farm owner in Saint-Isidore, Ontario Markus Haerle, regrets that he does not see agriculture leading this campaign in the provincial election.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Simon Lasalle

Markus Haerle can count on the help of his two children, but he recently lost an employee and is having a hard time finding a replacement.Today we are dealing with more advanced technologies that require more expertise than someone who knows how to drive a tractor, he said.

Added to this issue is the rapidly increasing value of inputs: diesel, seeds, pesticides, etc. Markus Harle gave the example of fertilizer, whose price has doubled in more than a year. Franco-Ontarian still considers himself lucky to have gotten enough for his needs, but he emphasizes with the same breath that many colleagues are unable to buy the required quantity due to supply chain disruption.

More money to deal with risk

Farmers are well aware of the risk associated with this sector of activity. Prices can fluctuate significantly between seed and harvest seasons. That’s why they rely on Ontario’s risk management program to get paid when the price of their product falls below a certain limit. Of the $ 150 million the province pays annually, the program is not adequately funded, Markus Haerle lamented.

Not just him.

750 kilometers from the farm Chicken Little, breeder Jason Desrochers also expressed dissatisfaction with the risk management program. His cattle farm is located in Val-Gagné, an hour east of Timmins in northern Ontario.

A man stands in a pyramid of hay bale stacked in a trailer while a dozen cows huddle.

Jason Desrochers, who owns nearly 500 cows, cows and calves, has to deal with the lack of labor in the slaughterhouses that sometimes prevents him from selling his cattle.

Photo: Courtesy: Jason Desrochers

Although the production of the two farmers is different, the problems they face are similar. Problems are also the lack of manpower in the industry and the inability of slaughterhouses to find qualified personnel has a direct impact on Jason Desrochers ’portfolio.

When the animal is ready for slaughter, this [ne] no more care for two or three months, it will no longer fatten. Just wasted money, but you need to continue to heal this monster. »

A quote from Jason Desrochers, cattle herder

The Ontario Beefmen’s Association is calling on the next government to increase funding for the risk management program by $ 100 million for total annual funding of $ 250 million. He also wants the province to invest heavily to increase the capacity of the slaughterhouses, as it has already reached the highest capacity in the east of the country.

A white cow and a brown cow stand side by side in a field.

Like farmers, livestock producers want the next government to increase funding for the risk management program.

Photo: Courtesy: Jason Desrochers

The importance of substitution and service in French

According to the Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens (UCFO), the average age of farmers is 55 and only 5% of agricultural businesses are owned by young people. This is whyUCFO Many of its requests to the future government focus on the issue of producing and training a new generation of farmers.

The organization wants the province to raise food literacy, provide better alignment between Francophone immigrants and farmers ’needs and set up an agricultural incubator in Eastern Ontario to support new agricultural businesses.

Promotional banner of our file on the 2022 Ontario elections.
Under a sky full of clouds, a wire fence limits a grassy area next to a large orchard.

According to Markus Haerle, the cost of equipment, inputs and land makes it almost impossible to start a new farming business like his.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Simon Lasalle

L ‘UCFO further suggests that it recommends that the future government offer financial benefits to farmers to encourage the adoption of sustainable farming methods and improve the offer of services in French.

We noticed that sometimes communications would come out in English and later a few days in French. So. [on veut sensibiliser] on bilingualism laws and ensure that Francophones have access to the same information as Anglophone farmers so as not to miss out on opportunities, funds, etc. »

A quote from Renée-Claude Goulet, member of the board of directors of the Union of Francophone Farmers of Ontario

What parties offer farmers

The Green Party wants to improve the risk management program to invest $ 100 million annually by 2025-2026 to provide greater coverage for farmers. It also proposed to protect more arable land and pay farmers to encourage them to protect ecosystems.

He also wants to improve training in agricultural schools to promote sustainable practices and protect farmers from the losses incurred in their transition to less chemical farming. Finally, the Green Party wants to create a fund to support food processing companies in Ontario.

The Ontario Liberal Party has promised to support farmers in the face of big business with a code of conduct for grocers. He also said he plans to make farmers ’supply chains more resilient and promote sustainable farming methods. Finally, the Liberals promised to create a climate plan adapted to the needs of agricultural enterprises and to increase the area of ​​protected land.

The New Democratic Party of Ontario promises to no longer limit funding for the risk management program to ensure farmers are compensated for their losses up to the protection selected. This could increase annual program funding to $ 350 million per year by the end of the first term. ang NDP It also promises to establish an assessment of the agricultural impact of new developments on arable land and create a strategy to help new farmers bring their products directly to consumers.

The Progressive Conservative Party reported actions it had taken in its previous mandate, such as increasing funding for the risk management program by $ 50 million annually by 2020 and its decision to reduce the ‘essence tax.

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