By Tom Collins
TORONTO — Local cattlemen’s associations are hoping to increase the number of young people in the beef industry by asking the province to help fund various programs.
One of the resolutions passed at the Beef Farmers of Ontario’s (BFO) annual general meeting in Toronto last month asked the BFO to lobby for a government-backed guarantee of the breeder loan program.
Glengarry Cattlemen’s Association president Heinz Hess said that such a program would have a lower interest rate than what banks offer now.
“If there’s available financing, it may encourage more younger farmers with guaranteed loans,” he said, adding that the lack of young people getting into the industry is the biggest issue facing the beef sector.
The current feeder cattle loan guarantee program provides a 25 per cent guarantee on the loan between the feeder cattle co-operative and its financial institution.
Two resolutions dealt specifically with fences. One resolution called for the creation of a perimeter fence loan program with similar terms to that of the existing Ontario Tile Loan Program, which provides loans through a municipality to help finance tile drainage projects with a 10-year repayment period on farmers’ property tax bills. The second resolution asked the BFO to lobby the Ontario government to remove the exemption of the province, counties and municipalities from repairing fences they damage and to ask for a cost-share roadside fence program similar to one in British Columbia.
Lanark Beef Farmers president Dave Campbell said more fencing would give more acres for cattle to pasture.
“There’s a lot of land we could put cattle in for pasturing here in Ontario but it hasn’t been farmed in years,” he said. “People own it and they just let the fences go, and if you can make a deal with them and have some type of program, you could use this land and put new fences on it and run more cattle.”
Campbell said he spoke to Ag Minister Jeff Leal at the meeting and Leal is receptive to the idea of a fence program.