Grain farmers in the province of Ontario are finding themselves in a pinch, since there are, apparently, no insurance programs that can cover for a costly mould infestation-driven shortfall.
According to the group Grain Farmers of Ontario, farmers could be looking at a $200-million shortfall due to the vomitoxin infestation of corn. The mould, called deoxynivalenol (DON), appears pink, and has been affecting farmers’ crops much more than in previous years.
“It’s not just a few acres, it’s millions of acres,” said Grain Farmers of Ontario chair Markus Haerle.
Infected bushels could hurt farmers, depending on how severe the infestation is. Partially infected bushels mean farmers will have to sell their produce at a discount, but bushels that exceed a certain level – eight parts per million – will be outright rejected, since animal feed created using the infected grain could be harmful to pigs.
“For myself, it’s about 85% of my corn was affected with high DON, high discounts,” corn farmer Maurice Chauvin told CBC News.
Last year, Ontario announced that it would open applications for eligible farmers looking for coverage for DON level testing expenses. The program was held in partnership with the federal government under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
But some farmers like Haerle said that the program does not cover for the immediate shortfalls they are experiencing.
“It still doesn’t reflect the cost of lost revenue on the deduction side that the farmer has per bushel,” Haerle mentioned.
At present, farmers can apply to a provincial agency, Agricorp, for their grain claims. However, there are no programs that specifically help farmers cover for shortfalls.
Chauvin argued that the current programs “simply don’t work, they don’t release any compensation because they’re so underfunded.”
Another corn and grain farmer, Kevin Girard, said that he would like to see a more “predictable” insurance program.
“A lot of money goes into growing a crop, so it’s very difficult not knowing where to get that money back out, or if we’re going to make money at the end of the day,” he said.