GRAIN FARMERS OF ONTARIO has been participating on an Agriculture-Wildlife Conflict Working Group for quite some time. Due to recent resolutions to the GFO?Board of Directors and a new plan by Agricorp to track wildlife damage in crops, I wanted to provide an update on the issue.
To provide some background, work on a strategy to manage human-wildlife conflict began in 2008. The initial strategy reflected input from a number of provincial ministries and over 30 stakeholders from the agricultural industry, hunting and trapping organizations, animal welfare organizations, environmentalists and conservationists. In 2010, OMAFRA and the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) introduced a strategy for managing agriculture-wildlife conflicts that built upon the original strategy from 2008. This strategy for the agricultural industry addressed information resource requirements for farmers, compensation program needs and the need for collaboration for industry responses on specific issues. It was the collaboration component of the strategy that created the Agriculture-Wildlife Working Group that Grain Farmers of Ontario is part of today. We are working with livestock groups, general farm organizations, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association, Agricorp, Ministry representatives from OMAFRA and MNR and the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters to name a few.
As all of our members have long been aware, there are limitations to production insurance when it comes to wildlife damage. Generally speaking, wildlife damage to crops is limited to specific areas of fields and very rarely becomes significant enough to trigger a production insurance claim. As a result, Agricorp does not have a lot of data specific to wildlife damage in their computer system.
Collecting data on wildlife damage to crops is an important first step before a strategy can be put in place to assess the issue, inform the development of best management practices, and explore options to address crop losses. Agricorp will be developing a system to collect information this year on minor perils associated with wildlife damage. The process will be consistent with other damage reporting processes through production insurance.
Information will be communicated from Agricorp to farmers enrolled in production insurance this spring on this issue so we encourage you read through the materials and report damage this year to ensure we have the information necessary to create the best policies possible. •