As published in The Kincardine News (Aug. 9, 2011)
Big beef farm support issued | Kincardine News
By Jennifer Schleich
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs has announced it will add $50 million to its Ontario Feeder Cattle Co-operative Program this fall, bringing the total available money to $130 million.
“Cattle is the backbone of industry in Bruce County and the backbone of agriculture all over Ontario. We count on farmers to give us food so farmers can count on their government when times are hard,” said OMAFRA Minister and Huron-Bruce MPP Carol Mitchell at Steve Eby’s farm, JSE Farms, on Thursday, Aug. 4 in Kincardine.
The Ontario Feeder Cattle Co-operative Program (OFCCP) was formed in November 1990 and originally started with only $35 million in funding.
The program provides competitive loans to members of the 19 co-operatives in Ontario. The additional money for the program will be drawn from the existing OMAFRA budget, but is paid back over time by the farmers.
“The program helps new and young producers to build up a base, allowing young farmers to enter the sector,” said Mitchell.
“We are in our 21st year now and I think the co-operatives in all areas of the province should be recognized for their hard work. This program will help our sons and daughters to get established in the industry,” added Curtis Royal, President of the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association.
Approximately 25% of the program users are young farmers, well above the industry average. Members of the cooperatives can borrow up to a maximum of $250,000.
Ross Jeffray, Chair of the OFCCP was pleased to hear the announcement.
“We had to turn away a number of young farmers in the spring because we didn’t have the funding. It will be great to call them up and let them know we can help them out now,” he said.
Allan Dales, who lives in Greenock Township, is spending his summer working at the Eby farm. The 16-year-old was glad to hear there will be a greater number of loans available to young farmers from the government.
“It’s really hard for us young guys trying to get into farming, the money just isn’t there. I grew up around here and my dad has cattle, if it wasn’t for the help of my parents I wouldn’t be able to become a farmer. This new loan money is great news,” said Dales.
Dales will be entering Grade 12 this fall and intends to become a beef cattle farmer after he graduates.
Mitchell told the assembled crowd the new addition to the program is part of a number of packages which OMAFRA has worked to bring forward this year, including the new Risk Management Program announced earlier this summer. The Risk Management Program will work “hand in hand” with the OFCCP, according to Jeffray.
“The OMAFRA staff deserve a lot of credit, they’ve worked really hard to get a lot done,” said Mitchell.