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New tool will assist corn farmers with challenges posed by plant disease

May 27, 2019  By Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs

The governments of Canada and Ontario are helping the province’s corn farmers better manage future occurrences of the plant disease deoxynivalenol (DON) in their crops.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), Canada and Ontario are supporting the Grain Farmers of Ontario to create a tool to forecast the risk of high concentrations of DON in corn crops.

This tool will help both traditional and organic corn farmers to make early, informed decisions about their crops and the use of fungicide or other treatments that reduce the risk of DON. This will also help reduce DON-related challenges faced throughout the corn value-chain and is similar to a forecasting tool for wheat.

This adds to a series of actions taken by Canada and Ontario to support farmers and the sector in connection with weather-caused, high-DON levels experienced in portions of the 2018 Ontario corn crop.

“Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership our Government is investing in resources to help farmers manage on-farm risk,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “We understand the significant impact the DON issue has presented for Ontario’s grain farmers and the grain value-chain and we are committed to sustainable solutions that will help farmers and the industry as a whole continue to grow and prosper.”

“Ontario’s Government understands the stress and the frustration that DON can create for our hard-working corn farmers and others in the sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “We are pleased that this investment will help Ontario farmers and others working in our agricultural sector to succeed. We’ll keep up the work to find more ways they can be profitable and get ahead.”

“We are pleased to have the support of the federal and provincial governments on this program. The repercussions of this year’s high-DON levels in corn are still being felt,” said Barry Senft, CEO, Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Farmers would welcome a tool that allows us some forecasting in terms of DON levels and helps us to prepare for any issues and maintain our businesses and the province’s grain corn value chain.”

Previous government responses to DON-affected Ontario farmers, include:

  • Creating a tiered corn salvage benefit in support of requests from farmers who dealt with DON in their corn crop last year. The benefit will more accurately reflect the additional costs associated with harvesting and handling corn affected by DON and help farmers trying to find a market for it.
  • Establishing another partnership with the Grain Farmers of Ontario to develop best management practices for in-season mitigation of DON and for effectively managing the storage of high-DON corn.
  • The provincial government extending its Commodity Loan Guarantee Program loan repayment deadline, giving farmers affected by DON additional time to market their corn. The Ontario government also increased the maximum guaranteed loan limit, on a pilot basis, from $120 million to $200 million for the 2019 and 2020 program years.
  • Launching a cost-share program through the Partnership to provide special assistance to farmers experiencing revenue loss over testing for DON in corn.

In addition to the supports to help manage the impacts of DON, the Ontario government also hosted two roundtable sessions with industry representatives to work on connecting farmers with mental health supports and to provide solutions to help the sector find alternate markets for corn with high levels of DON.

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