For Immediate Release: December 14, 2007

McGuinty Government Provides Assistance to Ontario Cattle, Hog and Horticulture Producers

$150 Million To Meet Immediate And Ongoing Needs

Toronto - The McGuinty government is moving quickly to provide $150 million to strengthen competitiveness and help Ontario cattle, hog and horticulture farmers suffering from multiple financial pressures, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Leona Dombrowsky said today.

The funding, announced in the 2007 Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review, will help farmers manage the effects of lower returns due to higher input costs, the stronger Canadian dollar and lower market prices. This funding builds on the $135 million provided earlier this year to assist grain and oilseed farmers compete and succeed in the global economy.

"We are responding to the near-record low prices and tight market conditions in which these farmers find themselves," said Dombrowsky.

A total of $130 million of the funding will go directly to approximately 13,000 farmers to help them deal with the immediate challenges presented by current economic conditions and the long-term impacts of BSE. Of this total, about $100 million will be provided to cattle and hog producers, while about $30 million will be delivered to horticulture producers. The remaining $20 million will go toward a variety of initiatives aimed at creating a more sustainable future for the sector. Payments are scheduled to be delivered to producers beginning in February, 2008.

"We know the need is great now. This announcement will allow farmers to consider this funding as part of their business decisions. We want the money to get to farmers as early as possible," Dombrowsky said.

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Contacts:

Producers with questions about the Assistance to Cattle, Hog and Horticulture Payment should call Agricorp at 1-888-247-4999, where a specialist will assist you.

Kelly Synnott
Minister's Office
(416) 326-6439

Brent Ross
Communications Branch
(416) 326-9342


Backgrounder

Financial Assistance for Farmers

Cattle and hog producers and the horticultural sector have experienced steep losses in their returns as a result of a number of economic pressures that have led to higher input costs and lower market prices. These sectors are important contributors to the Ontario economy. In 2006, Ontario farm gate sales from the cattle sector were more than $940 million; from hogs, more than $845 million; and from horticulture, more than $2 billion.

The current situation results from factors such as:

  • an unprecedented rise in the Canadian dollar, reducing the competitiveness of exports;
  • significant and recent increases in input costs;
  • major restructuring in the Ontario pork and beef processing sectors; and
  • the long-term impacts and ongoing adaptation by cattle producers to new processing and export requirements relating to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) situation.

The need for government action in these sectors was identified specifically in the communiqué from the federal-provincial-territorial meeting of agriculture ministers held on November 16 and 17, 2007.

The Ontario government is providing $150 million in 2007-08, with about $100 million going directly to cattle and hog producers and about $30 million going directly to horticulture producers. The Crown agency Agricorp will deliver payments to about 13,000 producers beginning in February, 2008.

The Ontario Cattle, Hog and Horticulture Payment will provide eligible producers with a payment based on their historical allowable net sales. Payments will be generated using the database from the federal Cost of Production Payment and the Ontario Cost Recognition Top-up program. To be eligible, producers must have at least half of their total commodity sales from cattle, hogs or horticulture.

For eligible cattle and hog producers, the payment rate will be 12 per cent of their allowable net sales, while the payment rate for horticulture (edible and non-edible) will be two per cent. The total payment cap per individual farmer under this program is $3 million. There is no application necessary to receive a payment.

The remaining $20 million will go toward a variety of initiatives aimed at creating a more sustainable future for the sector. Details of these will be provided in the new year.

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Contacts:

Producers with questions about the Assistance to Cattle, Hog and Horticulture Payment should call Agricorp at 1-888-247-4999, where a specialist will assist you.

Kelly Synnott
Minister's Office
416-326-6439

Brent Ross
Communications Branch
416-326-9342

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