District ag groups hoping to drum up drought support

BARWICK—With many farmers on hand for the Rainy River District Regional Abattoir meeting in Barwick last week, the presidents of two local agriculture associations took the opportunity to speak to the group about the dry season.
“We are looking for support to deem this an area of disaster based on the extreme heat and lack of rain,” noted Rainy River Federation of Agriculture president Trish Neilson.
“We realize there are some insurable losses already, but there are going to be some losses that won’t be insurable,” she warned. “Under disaster format, it might be possible to get some financial relief.”
Still, Neilson conceded the RRFA doesn’t know specifics about what it is going to do or how it plans to proceed because the board doesn’t know the requirements yet.
Both the RRFA and the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association will have booths at the Farm Progress Building during the Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society’s annual fall fair this weekend in Emo, and Neilson encouraged everyone to stop by and discuss the issue.
“They should talk to [member services representative] Linda Armstrong about how the drought has affected them,” she noted. “[The drought] should be the topic talked about at the fair.
We need to know all the implications so we can show the full impact,” she stressed.
Neilson also hopes all the local agriculture-based organizations get on board with the idea.
“We could write a separate letter, but we’d like to accumulate the information together so we’re all on the same page,” she said, adding she expects to see something coming together late next week or into the following one.
Neilson admitted a few pockets of the district might not be as bad as others, but overall everyone is seeing a significantly lower hay crop.
“I can’t remember a year like this,” she said. “You never wish for rain around here—it’s usually just a bad thing to do. We’ve had drier years, but they’ve been pleasantly dry.”
Neilson said talking to people about the drought at the fair will help everyone realize the severity of the situation.
“You don’t think about some of the costs until you talk to people,” she remarked. “They’ll say ‘Because of the drought, this happened to me.’
“Just because it’s not happening on your farm, it’s interesting to see how it’s impacted other people’s farms.”
Neilson said Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff is looking into the situation right now. And both associations hope to get a chance to talk to the politicians this weekend, as well.
RRCA president Ken McKinnon noted his group thought perhaps locals could show their support to apply for drought assistance by signing a petition of sorts.
“We have a serious situation here and we can’t sit back and hope it corrects itself,” he stressed.
(Fort Frances Times)