The past couple of years have been extremely difficult times for farmers and their families. The ice storm and the lower than expected returns due to severe market swings have caused emotional and financial stress on some families.
A listing of services available to farmers has been published by the Ontario and Federal Government. A copy of the brochure is available from your local OMAFRA office.
The Farm Consultation Service is an Agriculture and Agri Food Canada Program that provides confidential one on one financial management counseling to farmers. It also uses a free referral service to help farmers and lenders obtain information and resources that could improve or change the direction of the farm operation. For a nominal fee, qualified counselors will work with farmers experiencing financial problems to assess their situation and develop plans for the long term. To use this service, in Ontario contact Bob Zidchouski, Guelph at 1-800-265-8135.
The Farm Family Advisor Program is an OMAFRA Program to assist farmers with making some decisions about the financial and production viability on their farm. The Advisors are well trained and experienced farmers. Advisors are referred based on the type of commodity involved and are generally from outside the area of the farm family seeking the assistance. The Advisor will visit the farm to identify strengths, weaknesses and help the family develop an action plan to improve the financial health of the farm. The plan could include improving production, management, restructuring debt or considering alternative sources of income. The service is free of charge. Contact your local OMAFRA office for a referral form and recommendation.
Stress Counseling services for Ice Storm Farm Families provides up to $2,000 for pre approved stress counseling for farmers and their families. The counseling must be given by a qualified health professional. The program will accept applications until February 28, 2000 and invoices received will be paid until March 15, 2000. Applications an be obtained through your local OMAFRA office or by calling Bonnie O'Neill at OMAFRA Belleville at 1-800-391-6624. Francophone requests may be directed to Barbara Gray, OMAFRA, Alfred at 1-800-465-9974.
OMAFRA advisory staff located in the Alfred, Avonmore, Kemptville, Kingston, Nepean, Perth and Winchester field offices are available to work with farmers and their families on specific issues relating to farm business, business management, livestock, crop, horticulture production, farm planning, estate planning and much more. Call your local OMAFRA office for assistance.