ONTARIO—With pressure mounting from many farming groups, municipalities and individuals, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has announced that a review of the present Wildlife Damage Compensation program will take place.
“OMAFRA Minister Jeff Leal spoke to that issue at our (Ontario Federation of Agriculture) annual convention last week and said there will be a total review of the program beginning the first of the year (2018) on the Wildlife Compensation Program,” said Mark Kunkel of the OFA on Monday. “There are a lot of problems with the program and it is not providing the type of compensation that is needed for farmers who are losing livestock from predator kills.”
Mr. Kunkel noted, “the percentage of farmers who have made claims for livestock predator kills and been declined for this compensation has gone up from four percent to 20 percent under this program. Farmers all over are upset, justifiably so.”
Another concern that farmers have is that evaluators in place now who investigate livestock predator kills for farmers in a municipality currently send a report down to the ministry offices in Guelph and a decision on the claim is made there, said Mr. Kunkel. “What is needed is for all investigators to get the proper training, and to decide once they have done their work, if compensation will be provided, and hopefully once the review is complete, this will be the case.”’
“The minister said there will be a full review of the program,” said Mr. Kunkle.
Keith Currie, president of OFA, told the Recorder last Friday, “predator kills and the compensation have certainly been part of discussions and concerns raised by farmers across the province. The responsibility and compensation is the responsibility of the ministry, and they are going to be looking at ways to improve this program.”
“Minister Leal and his ministry are very aware of the issue, and when a farmer makes a claim and then OMAFRA denies compensation, there is an in many cases a lack of credibility on the part of the evaluators,” said Mr. Currie.
Mr. Leal, in his remarks at the OFA meeting said, “I want you to know that I have heard your concerns about the new Wildlife Damage Compensation Program. As with all government programs, we want to ensure they are directly benefitting those who rely on them the most. That’s why we will be launching an evaluation of the program after a year of implementation, along with involvement of our partners, like the OFA, to ensure the program continues to work in the best interested of producers. And based on those discussions, changes to the program will be considered.”