PETERBOROUGH The new Eastern Ontario director for the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) said two of the biggest issues facing the industry are getting young people into beef farming and increasing the number of beef cattle in the province.
The solution to both may be different types of incentives, said Garnet Toms, who was elected at the BFOs annual general meeting in Toronto on Feb. 18. Toms, who raises 50-head at Warsaw, near Peterborough, replaced Rick Hobbs. Hobbs sold his farm south of Ottawa last year partly because of high hydro prices.
“(Increasing cow herds) all has to start with the cow-and-calf sector,” said Toms. “Wed have to offer some kind of incentive to get this rolling, because were seeing all-time high prices for heifers.”
One idea is a heifer retention proposal. A beef farmer would get a payment from the BFO for every heifer retained, to cover feeding costs. Toms said beef numbers will continue to decline for the next few years as older farmers leave the industry.
“Since BSE hit (in 2003), the cow-and-calf guy has just been keeping his head above water and hasnt replaced any machinery or any equipment over the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “Over the next three or four years in the cow-and-calf sector, farmers will be selling all their stockers, including heifers, so they can take that money and upgrade their equipment.”