By Mark Kunkel
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Updates to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program were announced on February 1 that should see improvements in the claims, appeal and compensation process for Ontario livestock farmers. The changes will be implemented by the federal and provincial governments, and are a result of consultations with farmers and agricultural industry leaders, including the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA).
Wildlife predation is a serious threat to livestock. Coyotes, bears, wolves and foxes are among the most common predators in Ontario that kill or maim livestock, leading to financial, animal health and disease problems. The challenges farmers face with predators and protecting livestock were compounded by their increasing frustration with the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program.
OFA and farmers across the province participated in the consultation process to amend the program. OFA is pleased the federal and provincial governments heard our concerns about challenges with the program. The consultation process has seen some improvements that will reduce unnecessary red tape in the program.
To help farmers access compensation for livestock lost to predators, the Ontario Wildlife Compensation Program now includes:
- more ways to provide evidence that is sufficient to prove wildlife predation
- a more independent and transparent appeal process
- better training for municipal investigators to assess predation
- compensation that better reflects market prices
Program changes are effective February 1, and reflect some of the asks OFA, along with our farm business members have asked for. OFA encourages all Ontario livestock farmers to review the new program and changes. We also ask for feedback, directly to OFA and to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. OFA believes there is still room for improvement, and we will continue working with government to ensure the compensation program works as efficiently and effectively as it should.