The federal government needs to protect Canada’s food supply, the organization says
By Diego Flammini
Grain Farmers of Ontario (GFO) is continuing its campaign that urges the federal government to support farmers during the pandemic.
The new ad, which follows the organization’s first ad released last month, outlines how the provincial government understands the needs of corn and soybean growers, in contrast to a lack of understanding from the feds.
“Premier Ford and Ontario’s leadership is taking our concerns to the federal level to get dollars for Ontario’s needs,” Markus Haerle, GFO chair, told Farms.com. “Corn and soybeans are the main commodities Ontario producers grow, and these commodities are being hurt the most by the COVID crisis.”
Without proper support, Canada’s food supply may not be sustainable.
U.S. farmers are receiving billions of dollars in support from the Trump administration to help them continue producing food at the same levels they were prior to the pandemic.
Producers in Ontario, however, are reporting losses of up to $170 per acre.
“Farmers already knew going into this season that we were unlikely going to make a profit on corn and soybeans,” Haerle said.
If Canadian farmers aren’t supported in a similar manner as their U.S. counterparts, Canadian consumers may have to rely on imports rather than locally produced goods.
“Ontario growers are being asked to divert their contracts to other months of delivery,” he said. “As that happens, we as producers are holding back on our food supply being consistent from the Canadian source. As time goes on and the Canadian government doesn’t acknowledge the issue, farmers will make changes and not grow those commodities because we don’t have a stable enough environment, and the food will have to come from a different source.”
Processors aren’t likely to change their operations and will find other sources for their ingredients, Haerle added.
Since GFO’s first ad was released, there has been some movement in discussions between the organization and Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s staff.
“We’ve been in contact with senior policy advisers and strategy planners, but it hasn’t developed into any engagement with the minister directly,” Haerle said. “That’s something we’re going to continue to push for.”