Agriculture minister to bring issue of farmers’ crop/field damage to MNRF

Green Bay farmer says minister looking for solution to damage caused by geese, Sandhill cranes

GREEN BAY—A local farmer says that for the first time, a government minister has agreed to take the photographs he recently took of crop and field damage on his farm caused by Canada geese and Sandhill cranes directly to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to see if the problem can be handled.                                                      

“This is the first time a government minister has, after we explained the problem, agreed that he is going to take the pictures I provided him of the problem and bring it to the attention of the MNRF and see if they can alleviate the problem,” stated Paul Skippen, a Green Bay farmer who for years has been advocating for adequate compensation being provided to farmers for crop and field damage due to a proliferation of Canada geese, Sandhill cranes, deer and other creatures, and the possibility of a spring hunt on geese and  an automatic deer hunt licence for farmers. 

Mr. Skippen explained, “in the past we would talk  to one minister and they would send the issue to another minister and it would just basically go around in circles. I thought it was pretty impressive that (Ontario Agriculture Minister) Ernie Hardeman said that he would take this directly to the MNRF to look at a  solution.”

It was at last week’s annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) general conference that Mr. Skippen, fellow NEMI councillor and farmer Bruce Wood and NEMI Mayor Al MacNiven had the opportunity to meet with Minister Hardeman.

“I used the opportunity to tell him that in the past, governments hadn’t done anything on the issue of the crop damage done by Canada geese, Sandhill cranes and deer. I told him that our new Premier (Doug) Ford had promised in his campaign to look after farmers. We received no help from the Liberal government on this issue, but with this being a new government, and the  premier having said they would support farmers, maybe we will receive some help.”

Minister Hardeman said, “the government probably couldn’t afford the tremendous amount money                  for crop and field damage done in Northern Ontario and that the problem is probably prevalent all over Canada,” said Mr. Skippen. “So I said if you don’t feel the government can pay these costs how can farmers? Especially new young farmers who are just  starting out.”

“(Minister Hardeman) agreed there are problems and said he would contact the MNRF on this to see if a solution can be found,” said Mr. Skippen. I told him one thing that needs to be in place is a spring hunt on Canada geese, compensation for farmers and an automatic deer hunt licence.”

Mr. Skippen said he has put the information he gained from Minister Hardeman on the 511 Farming site and the Manitoulin Island Farmers Forum. He pointed out, “I have also talked to a bunch of people in the federal government, including the parliamentary assistant, who said that with an election coming up soon, they need more candidates for the Conservative Party. If I have to go that route I just might. I can tell you I am not going to let this issue die.”

The day before the AMO meeting and talking to Minister Hardeman, Mr. Skippen “took pictures, where I had replanted my seed on my fields that has been destroyed by the birds. I spent about $1,000 to reseed my fields,” he said noting that not only farmers but area  cottage owners complain as well about the number of geese and Sandhill cranes around.    

“We are going to get back to Minister  Hardeman in the near future to see where he has gotten on this issue,” added Mr. Skippen.