Beef and pork farmers partner to support insurance program

Nov. 23 marked the official launch of Ontario Cattlemen’s Association and Ontario Pork’s joint campaign in support of a risk management program (RMP) for the beef and pork industries. 

Beef and pork farmers are striving to educate politicians and enlist the provincial and federal governments to partner with them in establishing insurance programs similar to the successful pilot program recently implemented by the Ontario government for the grains and oilseeds industry.  

Ontario’s beef and pork industries are experiencing a severe downturn. Ontario’s beef cow herd has declined 18.4% since the beginning of 2003, while sow herd has declined over 20% since 2007.  That downturn is the result of several factors, including BSE, H1N1, and a high Canadian dollar, bringing increased competition from imports. 

With multiple economic threats occurring over an extended period of time, the current AgriStability program alone is not enough to sustain those industries.

Curtis Royal, the president of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association, said, “We understand that a solution is needed now and for the future. Therefore farm groups from across the province are working together to discuss the best way to move forward. We have undertaken unprecedented consultations with our members and the broader farming community to shape our specific insurance programs, and it is clear that creating this plan is our members’ number one priority.”

Part of the province’s broader farming community, Ontario’s beef and pork farmers are ready to partner with the provincial and federal governments now to establish those insurance programs that would protect against market fluctuations and allow all partners to share and limit risk.

The proposed insurance program would see local Ontario farmers in the beef and pork industries pay premiums to the government representing 30% of the long-term cost of the insurance program, on a voluntary basis.  The groups are asking governments to participate according to the traditional 60:40 federal:provincial split and for the province to act immediately to kick start and fund its share of the program.

“Not only would the program offset the difference between the current market price and the average long-term cost of production, it would also eliminate the need for ad hoc government support for both the beef and pork industries in the future,” said Wilma Jeffray, chairman of Ontario Pork. “We are encouraging many of our members to meet with their local MPs and MPPs and become ambassadors for these programs in their communities. 

“In addition, members and the general public can visit the campaign website to learn more about the proposed insurance programs and to continue to show their support for Ontario’s local beef and pork farmers and a strong local food supply.”

The immediate focus of the joint campaign is to achieve a commitment from both the federal and provincial governments.

In September, Ontario Pork and Ontario Cattlemen’s Association presented their proposed insurance programs to Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture for consideration.  By partnering with Ontario’s local farmers, the provincial and federal governments can help sustain local food production and strengthen the rural economy.

Ontario Pork and Ontario Cattlemen’s Association have been working with the Ontario Agricultural Sustainability Coalition (OASC) for the past year and continue to do so. In addition, the two associations have been working together for the past three months on finalizing their plans and are now prepared to move forward.  

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