For Immediate Release
June 25, 2007

Ontario Government Keeps Bee Industry Buzzing

Responsible For Pollination Of Over $170 Million In Ontario Crops

TORONTO - The McGuinty government is making sure that Ontario's beekeeping industry can continue to keep the agriculture industry growing, Leona Dombrowsky, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, announced today.

"The Ontario government recognizes that the beekeeping industry contributes greatly to the health and vitality of our agri-food sector," said Dombrowsky. "That is why we are helping them rebuild their colonies and strengthen their operations for the future."

Six weeks of bitter cold in January and February wiped out 22,000 bee hives - about 30 per cent of Ontario's honey bee population - mostly in Niagara and Haldimand-Norfolk. To help the sector recover, the province is investing $3 million:

  • The Special Beekeepers Fund will receive $2.4 million to provide direct compensation to beekeepers who suffered higher than normal hive losses this past winter.
  • The Ontario Beekeepers' Association will receive $600,000 for research, technology transfer, and to help promote Ontario honey.

"The assistance announced today will help bring Ontario's bee population back to near-normal levels and beekeepers back to normal business after this year's devastating financial losses," said Danny Walker, president of the Ontario Beekeeper's Association. "It should put us on the road to recovery. The OBA is pleased with the quick response of the minister."

Honey bees play an important role in the production of some fruit and vegetable crops, with an estimated value of over $170 million. In addition, the honey crop is worth over $14 million. Beekeepers across Ontario have worked together to ensure enough bee colonies are in place in the most affected areas to provide pollination services to fruit and vegetable crops. Replacing affected colonies in order to provide pollination services, obtain a honey crop and ensure enough healthy colonies are in place before the fall, will mean additional costs for several operations.

This is just one example of the Ontario government's support of Ontario's agriculture industry and rural communities. Other initiatives include:

  • Providing $55 million to improve farm net income under the Ontario Cost Recognition Top-Up Program and working with agricultural organizations on a Risk Management Program
  • Investing $10 million in a strategy to raise consumer awareness and promote consumption of Ontario-grown and processed foods
  • Providing $2.5 million in 2006-07 to a number of Ontario agri-food organizations that fund marketing initiatives for Ontario farm products, and $200,000 to the Organic Council of Ontario, which promotes industry development activities
  • Recognizing innovation in the province's agriculture sector by creating the five-year, $2.5-million Premier's Awards for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence. In 2007, 55 awards totaling $425,000 were presented at events across the province
  • Providing $12.5 million to the Vineland Research and Innovations Centre Incorporated.

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Contacts:
Kelly Synnott
Minister's Office
416-326-6439

Brent Ross
Communications Branch
416-326-9342


Backgrounder

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR ONTARIO'S BEEKEEPING SECTOR

Honey bees play an important role for the production of some fruit and vegetable crops. In Ontario, approximately 2,400 beekeepers produce a honey crop worth $14 million and their pollination services represent a $1.5 million industry. Crops pollinated by bees have an estimated value of $171 million to Ontario agriculture.

In response to this year's higher than normal bee losses and the hardship experienced by some beekeepers, the Ontario government has announced a $3 million investment to strengthen the beekeeping sector.

Funding to the Ontario Beekeepers' Association

The Ontario government is providing a $600,000 grant for research, technology transfer and honey promotion to the Ontario Beekeepers Association.

The association knows industry priorities and will play a key role in deciding how the funding can best benefit beekeepers. It will work closely with researchers to design research projects within guidelines and measurable outcomes negotiated under the funding agreement.

Special Beekeepers Fund in Ontario Program

The purpose of this $2.4 million program is to help alleviate the financial pressures faced by Ontario's beekeepers as a result of higher than normal mortality rate of Ontario honey bees in the 2006-07 winter season.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for one-time funding assistance through this program, beekeepers must:

  • Be registered with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as required under the Bees Act;
  • Have experienced colony losses greater than 15 per cent as a direct result of extraordinary natural conditions from November 1, 2006 to April 30, 2007; and,
  • Submit their applications by the program deadline, 5:00 p.m. EST, August 8, 2007.

What does the program cover?

The program covers colonies of bees lost above a 15 per cent average industry loss rate between November 1, 2006 and April 30, 2007.

How much financial assistance will be provided per beekeeper?

A unit allocation per colony will be determined once the application process closes. The funding available will be evenly distributed across the number of colonies of bees lost, with a funding ceiling of $225 per colony, depending on program uptake.

When will payments be made?

The one-time payments will be sent out to eligible Ontario beekeepers approximately five weeks after the program application deadline (August 8, 2007).

How can beekeepers apply for assistance under the program?

Eligible beekeepers in Ontario can apply for assistance by completing an application and submitting it to the ministry's Rural Community Development Branch by August 8, 2007. Applications and information packages will be mailed to all beekeepers.

For information and to obtain application packages registered beekeepers can contact:

Agricultural Information Contact Centre
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
1 Stone Road West, 4NW
Guelph, Ontario
N1G 4Y2
Tel: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Web : www.omafra.gov.on.ca

Contacts:
Kelly Synnott
Minister's Office
416-326-6439

Brent Ross
Communications Branch
416-326-9342

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