Response to 17-11 - Predation Compensation
The BFO Board of Directors agrees with the concerns raised in this resolution and believes that changes to both the process by which claims are evaluated and the guidelines that drive the evaluation process need to be improved. We have heard loud and clear from the membership that the current operation of the program is not acceptable and that changes are needed to ensure the program provides adequate and timely compensation to producers that experience predation events on-farm. As a result, BFO has committed to working in collaboration with the Ontario Sheep Marketing Agency (OSMA) in an effort to address the many concerns that have been raised by producers and industry representatives.
In the May and August editions of Ontario Beef we provided an overview of the changes to the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program that took effect January 1, 2017. We also encouraged any producer that had a compensation claim declined to contact the BFO office so that we could document the types of claims being denied, as well as any concerns from producers with the overall operation of the program. The level of response we have received to date has been significant, and I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of the producers, livestock investigators, and municipal officials that took the time to provide input. The feedback received has been extremely important in helping guide and frame our arguments with government.
BFO and OSMA had the opportunity to engage OMAFRFA on several occasions this year with respect to the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program. The two most significant meetings occurred in March and September. At the March meeting, representatives from both organizations met with the program’s administrative staff to outline our concerns and attempt to find a workable path forward. Although our concerns were acknowledged, the program administrators largely defended the status quo. The status quo, we argued, is not producing the types of outcomes that either of our organizations or producer members would view as satisfactory, and that changes are needed.
In September, our organizations were able to secure a meeting with three OMAFRA directors accountable to the Assistant Deputy Minister charged with overseeing the program. This was a much better meeting. The OMAFRA directors in attendance agreed in principle that many of the issues raised by BFO and OSMA were valid, and that a closer look at the administration of the program was warranted. Absent of a formal commitment to initiate an immediate program review, we do believe the Ministry is sincere about finding a workable solution to address our concerns.
BFO is fully supportive of the resolution that was passed by the Township of Oro-Medonte, requesting that the Premier and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs address the concerns raised by industry regarding the required standards of proof, and to respect the judgments made by Livestock Investigators. To date, ten different municipal, county and township councils have sent letters to the Premier and Minister, a list that continues to grow. In the coming weeks BFO will reach out to other local government bodies encouraging them to support the resolution passed by Oro-Medonte. A strong push from other local governments will only increase our ability to affect change.
Producers need to know that BFO is fighting to make this program more transparent and effective. However, alterations to any program, regardless of the merit of the proposed change, take time. We ask for your patience in this process as we continue to build support and advocate on your behalf for program and administrative changes that provide better value to the industry.
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