By Tom Collins
TORONTO —Wildlife predator compensation was one of the hot topics debated at the Beef Farmers of Ontario’s annual general meeting in February in Toronto.
Starting January, 2017, the Ontario’s Wildlife Damage Compensation Program was changed to allow farmers to include their own photo evidence in claims but farmers have since complained there has been a spike in predator claim rejections.
One BFO delegate resolution is to ask the province to be more transparent in how damage claims are handled and to provide timely payments when approved. Another resolution asks BFO to lobby the province to enhance the Ontario Wildlife Damage Compensation Program and put incentives in place to remove nuisance wildlife.
Without incentives to kill predators they can populate quickly and wreak havoc. Scott Honey, president of the Northumberland Cattlemen’s Association, said one year, coyotes destroyed six calves and one cow on his farm.
“I had one other years before, where she was calving and (coyotes) took the calf right out of the cow,” said Honey. “This compensation is a big thing. They didn’t pay a fortune anyways. It’s not like you’re getting rich. You just paid for the cow. The (province) went and changed it and made it tougher.”
Bob Dunsmore, president of the Perth County cattlemen’s association, said it won’t become a provincial issue until coyotes start killing dogs in small towns and urban areas. “Agricultural is two per cent of the population” he said. “Once the city people have the same problem as us, it’s a big problem.”
Beef farmers also voted to ban the use of hot iron branding in Ontario for all types of cattle. Beef farmers say this is not something they do but it was intended to “try to look as good as we can to the public,” Honey said.
One resolution asked for equal funding for herd expansion. In the past few years, the BFO has given funding to expand herds in Northern Ontario, but beef farmers in Eastern and Western Ontario say this is unfair. A resolution was passed to get similar funding for all of Ontario.
Stormont County beef farmers president Jamie Clark said there is lots of land in Eastern and Western Ontario that, if fenced, could help expand the cow herd more easily than in Northern Ontario where it is more difficult to grow corn.
Another resolution was for the BFO to promote a resurgence in local abattoirs. “The problem is there’s not enough of them around,” Clark said.
It is now up to the BFO board to discuss each of the 20 passed resolutions to determine which ones to act on. A list of the resolutions that passed at the annual meeting are on page B8.