by Mark Reusser
Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
ONTARIO — Wildlife damage to livestock and crops continues to plague farmers. From coyotes attacking flocks of sheep to geese and cranes eating fields of newly emerged wheat or corn, farmers face the effects of nature in everything they farm.
Ontario farmers are fortunate to have access to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program that provides compensation to poultry and livestock farmers for losses caused by wildlife. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has always worked closely with the government to ensure this program offers fair coverage and is accessible to anyone who needs it. Updates to the program were recently made in February and OFA continues to work with partners and the government to ensure the program meets the needs of Ontario farmers.
As part of our ongoing consultation, OFA reminds the provincial government that livestock farmers aren’t the only ones dealing with production loss caused by wildlife. Crop farmers can lose whole fields or portions of fields and are left to deal with significant crop damage and yield loss. Deer, geese, sandhill cranes and migratory birds are just of a few of the most common culprits that eat crops or damage standing crops. Unfortunately, Ontario farmers aren’t effectively compensated for these losses.
OFA is asking the government to treat all Ontario farmers fairly, no matter what type of farm they operate, and extend a fair wildlife compensation program to crop farmers.
Current compensation options for Ontario crop producers are falling short. The current Production Insurance program doesn’t offer fair coverage to farmers who experience crop or yield loss due to wildlife damage. OFA is addressing this compensation gap with the Ontario government, asking them to create a wildlife damage compensation program for field crop farmers.
Although mitigation efforts are permitted, wildlife damage is not easily controlled and can have a significant impact on the production and productivity of a farm business. We’ve heard from our members, and know this issue isn’t going to go away. OFA will continue to work with the government to ensure fair wildlife compensation programs are available to all Ontario farmers.