The OFA says new BSE and safety net funding announcements provide some of the clear signals it requires that the provincial government intends to repair battered producer confidence.
However, president Ron Bonnett cautioned, "the OFA knows itíll take more than just these announcements to restore Ontarioís livestock sector to its former strength."
Bonnett was commenting on a presentation by Premier Dalton McGuinty Feb. 25 of $10 million in support of a new cull animal strategy, along with confirmation of $64 million for transition funding into a new generation of fed-prov farm safety net programs.
As venue, McGuinty chose the annual meeting of the Ontario Cattlemenís Association. He said the $10 million is also intended to provide new markets for Canadian beef in the wake of the U.S. border closing due to BSE which now dates back to May.
"Our beef farmers are caught in a crisis, a crisis thatís not of their own making," McGuinty told the OCA crowd. "Itís a crisis thatís having an impact on our economy and on our rural communities. And helping at this critical time is the right thing to do."
On the BSE front, he also confirmed an agreement by premiers and territorial leaders to establish a national beef "strike force" to rebuild international confidence in the product, 118 full and part-time beef inspectors to be in place by April 1, and continuing efforts to reopen the U.S. border to Canadian beef.
McGuinty insisted that his government is "standing with farmers" whose work contributes to the priorities of building a prosperous economy and strong rural communities.
Turning to safety nets, he said the $64 million package for all eligible farmers will include $7 million reserved for beef producers.
For his part, Bonnett committed the OFA to continue working with governments at all levels to achieve a satisfactory level of economic return for Ontario farmers.
"The OFA has made number of presentations to the provincial government recently outlining ways the agricultural sector can be helped by support initiatives."