NW Ont. farmers facing severe drought

NW Ont. farmers facing severe drought
Jul 23, 2021

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Industry groups and the government are collaborating to support affected producers 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer

Farmers who are battling severe drought conditions in northwestern Ontario came together for a roundtable discussion to share their experiences, needs and proposed solutions on Wednesday. 

The meeting was jointly hosted by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA), Beef Farmers of Ontario, and Grain Farmers Ontario. Also in attendance was

Ontario’s ag minister Lisa Thompson and representatives from the sheep, dairy and equine sectors.  

Many farmers in the area are facing crop failure and feed shortages. 

“The hardest hit region would be Rainy River, as well the Kenora, Dryden and Thunder Bay areas,” Peggy Brekveld, OFA president, told Farms.com. 

“Rainy River has producers reporting that there is no crop in some of their fields,” she explained. “Cattle have started to be sold off and shipped out because there wont be enough feed. There are a lot of requests for feed and a lot of looking at places more than ten hours away.” 

Many of these farmers would source feed from farther west, in Manitoba “and they also are experiencing a drought,” she added. Producers “spoke to how hard the drought is, how they’re being affected, and the depth of the feeling there, how this is hitting them hard.”

The government is working together with industry to provide support for those farmers in three main ways, Brekveld explained. 

The first category is infrastructure support, like new wells and temporary fencing.

The second includes “enhancements in effective risk management insurance,” Brekveld explained. And thirdly, officials are working to provide “feed and livestock programs that could include helping subsidize transportation costs for hay and feed, and potentially sometimes moving animals.” 

Both federal and provincial government “are looking to help and certainly working with those affected and industry to try to find the right solutions as soon as possible,” she said. “There’s urgency to this and everybody sees that.” 

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