Guelph, Ontario – The National Farmers Union (NFU) is calling on local food eaters and the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to support Ontario family farmers as they cope with drought conditions and other weather-related challenges.
St. Marys area farmer and Ontario NFU Coordinator, Ann Slater said, "NFU members across much of the province are facing a severe shortage of pasture and forages to feed livestock for the rest of the summer and to store for winter feed. In addition, vegetable, potato, fruit and grain growers are watching their harvests decline or disappear as crops dry up or do not pollinate properly."
The lack of rainfall is not the only weather-related situation causing challenges for farmers this year. The warm weather in March led to early growth, and when normal frosty weather returned in April it caused considerable damage not only to tree fruits, but also to perennial forage crops such as alfalfa. Recent hot, sunny weather along with inadequate moisture in the ground is leading to poorer pollination and blossom drop in some vegetable and field crops.
"The drought conditions and the spring frosts have cut into the potential harvests for many farmers growing food for the local market. However, local eaters should realize farmers are still in their fields every day doing what they can to grow and harvest food for their local communities,” stated Slater.
Lanark county farmer and Ontario NFU youth advisor, Coral Sproule added, "This is an important time for eaters committed to local food to continue to patronize local food through farmers' markets, farm gate outlets and community-supported agriculture (CSA). Farmers need local eaters to show their support by purchasing the local produce and meat we have been able to harvest in spite of the drought and other weather challenges."
The NFU has asked the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Hon. Ted McMeekin to take the steps necessary to provide disaster relief to farmers affected by the drought across the province and to advocate for disaster relief programs in Growing Forward 2.
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For more information contact:
Ann Slater, Ontario NFU Coordinator, 519-349-2448, firstname.lastname@example.org
Coral Spoule, Ontario NFU Youth Advisor, 613-464-8945, email@example.com