The counties of Perth, Oxford and Huron are among 19 municipalities in Ontario identified as “Prescribed Drought Regions” for the 2012 growing season by the federal government. And it’s expected that, by the first week of October, a joint federal/ provincial “Agri-Recovery task team” will complete its assessment of the drought’s impact.
That information was included in a news release sent out last week by the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and the Mennonite Disaster Service, announcing a program called “Hay East” aimed at easing the drought-caused livestock feed shortage in Ontario. The two organizations — the OFA representing thousands of Ontario farmers; the Mennonite Disaster Service working to assist rural areas affected by disasters in Canada and the US — commended the two upper levels of government after federal, provincial and territorial Agriculture Ministry representatives held a meeting the Yukon.
“There is some hope emerging for farmers in the 19 identified drought disaster areas in Ontario thanks to a program that was launched yesterday,” the news release explained.
Hay East, co-chaired by the two organizations with involvement from various other Ontario farm groups, has a mandate to “work to sustain livestock through the winter by delivering much needed hay from Western Canada to eastern Canadian farmers.” Hay East is described as “a follow-up to the Hay West program that saw thousands of eastern Canadian farmers send forages to Western Canada in 2002 to help alleviate the effects of that region’s drought. Organizers say western Canadian farmers are anxious to reciprocate that goodwill.”
“We are grateful to the western Canadian farmers who are getting organized to send hay to their eastern neighbours,” said OFA President Mark Wales. “There is an urgent need for feed for livestock, particularly in areas where there is no crop to harvest. Inventories of forage are being used or are already gone because pastures dried up early in the season.”
Organizers are working on setting up a website and toll-free phone number to coordinate donations from farmers with hay to spare, and those in need of support. Ontario farmers in need of forage must apply to the program for consideration. Farmers in need can email email@example.com to be contacted about the application process once the program is finalized, or they can visit www.ofa.on.ca for a link to the program’s website once it is available.
“Most importantly, we want farmers in need to know organizations such as Mennonite Disaster Service and their fellow farmers are working to deliver as much relief as possible,” says Wales.
Other “Prescribed Drought Regions” identified recently by the federal government include: Brant, Haldimand-Norfolk, Hamilton, Ottawa, Parry Sound, Muskoka, Bruce, Dufferin, Grey, Lanark, Renfrew, Wellington, Halton, Niagara, Waterloo, and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.