Ontario is expanding the Risk Management Program by $50 million for a total of $150 million annually and doing it a year earlier than planned, according to a media release.

Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark says the program’s funding is critical to farmers, supporting them when they’re hit with unforeseen challenges like fluctuating market prices and extreme weather events (flooding or drought and disease).

“I want to thank Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman for his commitment to delivering this expanded funding to enhance the Risk Management Program ahead of schedule. The past several months have highlighted again the importance of our agriculture sector and having a strong local food supply. We need to ensure our hard-working producers have the supports they need to survive when the unexpected happens.”

Around 80-percent of eligible commercial production in the cattle, hog, sheep, veal, grains and oilseeds, and edible horticulture sectors in Ontario is covered by the provincial Risk Management Program, according to Clark.

A media release also says the increased investment in the program is in addition to a $15 million Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program established by the province.

“Farmers and other operations have access to cost-shared funding to help enhance health and safety measures for employees, such as purchasing personal protective equipment, medical testing equipment, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, and temporary or permanent modifications to enhance physical distancing.”

Support is also available for unexpected costs for housing and transportation because of a COVID-19 outbreak on their farm.

The deadline to apply for the program is at midnight next Thursday (July 30th, 2020) and producers should contact the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ delivery agent, Agricorp, to enroll in the Risk Management Program.