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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Walker Applauds Changes To Farm Compensation Program

Grey Bruce | by Claire McCormack  

MPP Bill Walker says it will now be easier to seek compensation for livestock killed by predators.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker is applauding the Ministry of Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) for updating the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program.

Walker says changes have been made to wildlife predation compensation procedures, the deadline for paying back loans on corn affected by high levels of Deoxynivalenol (DON) has been extended and the government has increased the Commodity Loan Guarantee limit.

Walker says OMAFRA Minister Ernie Hardeman has led the effort to enact changes that make it easier for farmers to seek compensation for livestock that has been killed by predators (Walker says often coyotes in Grey Bruce).

Walker says the ministry has updated the program so it's less complicated for farmers to prove loss than the previous government's program, "The administration and bureaucracy...making them go through proving pages and pages of documentation to prove the loss of your livestock."

Walker says farmers were dealing with too much red tape, "We need to get back to some common sense and making sure that we're treating them with respect."

He adds, "These farmers they're the best stewards of the land, they're the best stewards of their animals and it's a huge compensation hit if they lose one or more of their livestock."

Walker says even the investigators who looked into claims were frustrated to the point of asking for a meeting with Walker, who took the issue to Queen's Park.

Walker says they'll continue to review the program and "make sure it's working for the benefit of the farmer at the end of the day."

He says program updates include, "More ways to provide sufficient evidence to prove wildlife predation, a more independent and transparent appeals process,    better training for municipal investigators to assess predation,  and compensation that better reflects market prices."

Walker also notes OMAFRA has extended the Commodity Loan Guarantee Program (CLGP) repayment deadline for corn farmers affected by high levels of Deoxynivalenol (DON) in this year’s corn crop. It is now September 30th for the 2018 and 2019 program years.
 
He says the extension will give producers affected by high levels of DON additional time to market to their corn.

The government is also increasing the maximum guaranteed loan limit under the CLGP from $120 million to $200 million for the 2019 and 2020 program years.

Walker says his government is "Ontario is committed to reducing red tape and regulatory burden to make it easier for farmers to do business, while maintaining standards to keep Ontarians safe and healthy."

He says, "A lot of us come from rural Ontario around the cabinet table and caucus and we're taking that information back. I'm pleased to see that the Minister is actually taking action."

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