Beachburg, ON – Dave Mackay, President of the Renfrew County National Farmers Union states drought conditions have reached a major disaster point for area farmers and the rural economy in Renfrew County. The past weekend’s dry, hot conditions and blustery winds turned many areas in Renfrew County to almost desert like conditions.
Many parts of Eastern Ontario are dry, but it is noted that sections of Renfrew County unfortunately appear to be more parched than other areas. “It is very, very sad to take a drive in the country side and see the effects of this fast becoming one in one hundred year drought. Any amount of rain received from here on won’t regenerate the crops or hay for this year,” states Mackay.
Mackay also reported, “Farmers are telling me they are stressed, the animals are stressed and the water is depleting day by day. There is a stress help line, farmers can call, but farmers need more! They need financial help now as they don’t know how they will be able to pay their seeding bills or what they will feed their animals this winter.”
The National Famers Union’s mandate is to support and work on behalf all family farms. A drought of this caliber has the potential of leaving a lasting effect on family farms, agriculture related businesses and the community as a whole. The drought situation and financial short coming is not caused by the farmers’ own making, and therefore, we need to look after the long term needs of our farmers and community. That is the reason the Renfrew County NFU has already had a lengthy discussion with our MPP John Yakabuski and met with MP Cheryl Gallant.
In addition to those meetings, a group of farmers met last week and drafted recommendations for immediate disaster relief funding from both levels of government. On a point of information, the federal government covered 60% of the emergency relief paid to farmers for crops lost in the 2010 Saskatchewan flood. The province of Saskatchewan covered the balance.
The recommendations proposed to both levels of government ask for immediate assistance to be paid to farmers on a per head basis for livestock and per acre for cash crops and market gardening. The proposal also outlined that if the per animal/per acre assistance were too cumbersome to administer, then a per acre pay out of emergency funds be made to all farmers as quickly as possible. Bridge Funding was also recommended, which would require the provincial government to guarantee loans to be processed by financial institutions and to be lent to those farmers in need as quickly as possible. Farmers would be required to repay the principle in due time.
The recommendations also suggested the above drought assistance for all farmers, both those with and without crop insurance. “Those who choose not to carry crop/hay, pasture insurance have their own reason for not participating and we cannot allow them to be left out,” stated Mackay.
In summary, other Renfrew County organizations, county councils and municipal councils have been requested to support the recommendations that the NFU has proposed. Renfrew County NFU, with the help from the provincial NFU branch, will be furthering this urgent call for immediate financial assistance.