Members Statements — Assistance to Farmers

March 5, 2013


Mr. Ernie Hardeman: Mr. Speaker, as you know, last summer, parts of Ontario suffered through severe drought. When I toured Renfrew, I saw fields of corn where there wasn’t a plant over 10 inches at the end of July, and farmers who were frustrated and worried they wouldn’t have enough to feed their livestock.

I want to commend all the farmers and organizations that came together to form HayEast, which brought hay from western Canada to help farmers get through this difficult winter. It is wonderful to see people working together: the generosity of western farmers who donated their hay, people who transported it at cost and those in Ontario who came to help with the cost.

But farmers buying hay because of the drought are now facing another challenge. The government program designed to assist them with transporting the hay from the long distances doesn’t work. Farmers will be feeding their livestock the purchased hay until May, but the program only covers expenses to March 15. Mr. Speaker, it doesn’t make sense that the program ends before the problem does. During the six or seven weeks after the deadline, many farmers will transport purchased hay from long distance at great expense, but it won’t be covered.

I wrote to the Premier last week and asked her to extend the AgriRecovery program to mid-May. The deadline is now less than two weeks away, so I ask the Premier again to extend the program, go to eastern Ontario, visit the farms that have been impacted and hear from the farmers first-hand to make sure the program actually works for them. I’m going to talk with them in person, and I hope, Minister, you will, too.