Letter to McMeekin re: proactive plan for drought damage
Dear Minister McMeekin,
As you know farmers across Ontario are suffering due to the drought. The lack of rain has caused significant damage to our crops, impacting the yield and quality. Already there are reports that some farmers have declared their crop a write off due to the amount of damage.
This is in addition to the impact of the usually warm weather in March which was followed by frost damaging many of the fruit blossoms.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced a drought disaster package which is designed to ease some of the regulations that will speed assistance to affected agricultural areas. Those include:
1) A 40 percent reduction in processing time for most counties affected by disasters;
2) A reduced interest rate for emergency loans that effectively lowers the current rate from 3.75 percent to 2.25 percent; and
3) A payment reduction on Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands qualified for emergency haying and grazing in 2012, from 25 to 10 percent.
Minister, I encourage you to follow their example and take proactive steps to assist Ontario’s farmers at this time of need. We should not wait until farmers are struggling before looking at whether the insurance programs will work and what other steps can be taken.
I would ask you to outline immediately the steps that your government will be taking to assist farmers through the drought.
Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford
PC Critic for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs