SPRING BAY—Many concerns were raised at the Annual General Meeting of the Manitoulin Cattlemen’s Association/Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (MCA/OSCIA) held late last month in Spring Bay, among them predator control and the lack of help from for farmers.
Cattleman Brent Best explained that a Renfrew County farmer gave pointed criticism during a recent conference on the lack of progress the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) have had to directly help on predation pressures he has experienced saying he feels besieged now that the province has declared a coyote and wolf hunting ban on even more townships. He also noted that the province has implemented onerous regulations.
This predation issue also came up at the AGM when Lyle Dewar of Providence Bay told the audience that he had recently lost two calves to wolves and asked about compensation. Brian Bell, agricultural development advisor for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), reminded members that in such circumstances they must secure evidence of the kill, report the situation to the municipality and they will send someone out to investigate. About 25 percent of claims are refused.
Birgit Martin, director of the Northeastern OSCIA, was the next to speak, giving members an update on the activities of that association.
There are Tier One grants available again this year to support events such as educational activities, field days, guest speakers, bus tours, in-field trials or demonstrations of new equipment or management techniques. There are one-year grants to support OSCIA county/district or regional activities where groups can work together.
OSCIA also supports research regarding cover crops which involves planting such vegetation as red clover or a grass and such along with the regular crop of, say, corn. This practice not only allows for a second crop later in the season, but also contributes to the viability of the earth and results in a more drought resistant soil. OSCIA has established A Soil Health Graduate Scholarship for the University of Guelph for $10,000 for the next five years.
Everything helps in this age of climate change and OSCIA has teamed up with scientists at several universities, including Ottawa, to research the benefits to crop yields if tile drainage is controlled. This involves the installation of flow control systems at tile drain outlets which has shown a good benefit to farmers in drought conditions as well as reducing unwanted nutrients from the water supply.
Also in the works is the Sustainable Farm and Food Initiative to reduce the burden on farmers by implementing a one data collection with a trusted data manager, a seamless alignment with customers’ requirements and opportunities for learning and continuous improvement.
Mr. Bell spoke of the announcement by Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines of the Northern Ontario Agri-Food Strategy that encourages businesses and communities to work with the province by growing the agriculture, aquaculture and food processing sector in the region through research, growth of the industries and soil mapping in the North.
He also spoke of the great benefit to the North of a share in millions of dollars for tile projects and added that there is no longer land clearing involvement now, it is not coupled with tile. Members who are interested in individually participating in land clearing can contact Mike Addison at LAMBAC.
Mr. Bell also noted that there will be a Northern beef production symposium held in Noranda February 7-8.
Mary Scott, workshop leader for OSCI, provided members with an update on the Growing Forward program. Several workshops will be held including, Growing your Farm Profits (GYFP), Environmental Farm Plan Workshop (EFPW), Biosecurity, Traceability and Food Safety. The EFP workshop will be held on Manitoulin February 5 and February 12, the GYFP event on March 19 and March 26, and Traceability on March 13 and 20. Members can register online at www.ontariosoilcrop.org or call Ms. Scott at 705-561-6415.
Ms. Scott also stated that the Growing Forward 2 program has been completed, but the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) has ramped up and she will provide information as it becomes available.
John McNaughton ended the meeting by announcing that there is a proposed provincial check-off increase and that constitutional changes will see an increase in the term length of committees. He reminded the members to get resolutions in which will be tabled for the BFO AGM. Also, plans are in the works to hold another Beef Information Day, but a time and place has not yet been set.