Barrett says Business Risk Management changes overdue

For Immediate Release:
March 29, 2011

Queen’s Park – Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett says Ontario’s farmers have faced uncertainty long enough and welcomed risk management program (RMP) changes for farmers introduced in the budget. He noted there is still room for improvement.

Barrett has issued news releases and columns on the topic over the past year. In addition, Ontario Pork and the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association were at Queen’s Park recently to talk to MPPs on the topic. Many municipalities have shown their support behind the need.

“Over the past years, farmers and we in Opposition have made numerous attempts to make government understand the importance of risk management when it comes to the paper-thin margins many producers face on a year-to-year basis,” Barrett said. “While cash crop has seen RMP extended one year, our hog, beef and fruit and vegetable farmers were still left out in the cold.”

RMP is similar to an insurance program in that farmers pay a premium to protect against uncontrolled factors such as:
• Volatility and collapse of commodity prices
• Unexepected increases in the cost of inputs such as fertilizer and oil
• Weather conditions that affect productivity

Risk management coverage was previously available for cash crop corn, soy, wheat farmers on a pilot basis. The pilot was extended with the budget, but Barrett would like to see it a permanent program. Budget 2011 introduces risk management for cattle, hogs, sheep and veal calves. Fruit and vegetable farmers will be receiving a self-directed risk management program.

Although the budget addresses the situation for grain and livestock farmers, it doesn’t put fruit and vegetable farmers on the same playing field. Barrett pointed out fruit and vegetable farmers are particularly vulnerable to weather events, increased input costs and competition from offshore where labour is cheaper.

“The budget provides risk management, but it took the pressure of a pre-election budget before McGuinty came through for farmers,” Barrett said. “These farmers have needed assistance for several years.”

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For more information, please contact MPP Toby Barrett at
(519) 428-0446 or (905)-765-8413, 1-800-903-8629