Beef Farmers of Ontario, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Veal Farmers of Ontario, and the Ontario Sheep Farmers are collectively asking Ontario’s Premier and the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to immediately move to fully fund the Ontario Risk Management Program (RMP) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Representing over 50,000 Ontario farmers, the groups say that farmers in the non-supply managed sectors are in crisis without access to sufficient safety net support. The group says that the time to act for farmers and Ontario’s food supply is now, and that there is existing allowances within RMP to make changes “in case of an extraordinary market or production disruption.” By making sure the funding is not limited by an arbitrary funding cap put in place by the previous government, an uncapped RMP will give farmers in Ontario confidence to invest in their food production systems, the group says in a joint press release.
“In the last election, Ontario’s Premier campaigned to increase much-needed funding for the Ontario RMP, recognizing the critical underfunding of the program in recent years and its importance to the agri-food sector and Ontario economy. COVID-19 has amplified financial challenges facing our family farms and induced market and production disruptions that threaten the food supply and viability of farm operations,” the groups say.
“Farm operations can’t wait any longer for support from our provincial government. It’s absolutely imperative that this safety net be put in place to ensure beef operations and the beef supply chain can continue to provide Ontarians with access to local food,” says Rob Lipsett, chair of the Beef Farmers of Ontario. “RMP is the right mechanism to provide stability to the sector”.
Farmers are asking the province of Ontario to share in the risk that it takes for a farmer to grow food, not a bailout, says Markus Haerle, chair of Grain Farmers of Ontario.
“This crisis has highlighted the fact that the current Risk Management Program in Ontario is inadequate to deal with this kind of acute risk. The program needs to change to provide more support for our farmers against a growing number of unforeseen risks, says Marc Carere, chair of Ontario Sheep Farmers.