Ont. fruit growers backed to plan against future frosts

Ontario fruit growers hit by frost in 2012 will be able to get federal/provincial funds to help map out strategies against such damage in the future.

Up to $2 million will go to produce workbooks expected to help producers develop their own risk mitigation strategies for adverse weather. The workbooks are expected to be available from Agricorp, the province’s ag funding delivery agency, in late January, along with additional information and guidelines.

Any Ontario producer who made over $7,000 in tender fruit or apple income in the 2011 tax year and still plans to grow such commodities in 2013 will be eligible for the program.

"Provisions" will be made for producers who only got into fruit production starting in the 2012 or 2013 tax years, the governments said in their release.

The completed workbooks must be submitted by Feb. 28, the governments said.

Many fruit growers in Ontario were caught in 2012 by an unseasonably warm spring which led their trees to bloom early, leaving the emerging fruit buds vulnerable to a subsequent severe frost.

"Managing the effects of frost more effectively is an important part of adapting to climate change and the extreme weather it brings," provincial Ag Minister Ted McMeekin said in the governments’ release. "This funding will help apple and tender fruit growers be better prepared, and maintain sustainable crops in the future."

The strategy funding is over and above the estimated $74 million to be paid out to affected growers through business risk management (BRM) programs such as production insurance, AgriStability and the province’s Self-Directed Risk Management program.

AgriRecovery, the federal/provincial disaster relief framework, will not apply in Ontario fruit growers’ case, the governments said Jan. 10.

An AgriRecovery assessment of the 2012 frost event found that "the comprehensive assistance available under (BRM) programs will sufficiently address the resulting income and production losses," they said.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz had suggested in May 2012, under opposition questioning on the matter, that there may be AgriRecovery funds put up for Ontario fruit growers.

Related story:
Ritz predicts AgriRecovery for Ont. fruit growers, May 16, 2012

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