Farming has been a staple in Ontario for hundreds of years.
But this season’s crop failure, along with other economic issues, is starting to hit Ontario farmers hard.
The province’s crop insurance premiums are at a record high of $6.7 million per farm, the highest since 2006.
And there is mounting concern that the rate could reach $7.5 million by the end of the year.
There are only a handful of farmers left on Ontario’s rural and regional farmland, which include most of the province’s wheat and barley.
It’s the most valuable crop in the province, worth about $1.5 billion a year, according to the Ontario Agriculture Ministry.
But the province has also seen its wheat and milk production fall over the last several years, leading to higher insurance premiums.
And the loss of subsidies, as well as the recent loss of the Ontario Wheat Council and its members, are driving farmers to the brink.
The Ontario Wheat Board, a provincial agency, is facing a $1 billion budget deficit this year, and it is not clear how much of that will be covered by farmers.
The provincial farm insurance program covers a portion of the shortfall, and some farmers are losing out.
“We have seen premiums go up significantly in the last year and a half,” said Mike Nardella, a spokesman for the Wheat Board.
The board has been forced to raise premiums by $900 million over the past five years.
It now spends about $5 million per year on premiums and deductibles.
Nardella said premiums are expected to rise again this year.
“The board is going to be asking farmers to go to the farmers market this weekend and ask them to come up with a plan,” he said.
“There will be a big demand for this and it’s going to cause a big impact.”
Nardell said that, for now, the board will only cover about 20 per cent of the total premium.
“The board’s goal is to have 80 per cent,” he added.
Farmers will have to pay $2.5 to $4 a hectare for the crop insurance.
The insurance is only available to producers who live within an hour’s drive of the Wheat Council, or who have a farm on their land.
“It is not an automatic thing that they will be paying,” Nardell added.
“We will be having to do some additional work to figure out how to manage the risk.”
There will definitely be some people that will feel that they are being squeezed a little bit and it will be more difficult for them to make a profit.
“But at the same time, we are all looking at the future.”
The wheat board will be seeking proposals for farmers to sell their crops, and they will have a chance to explain their strategies and strategies for the future.
But there will also be a deadline for farmers not to sell any of their land and for the board to decide whether to continue paying premiums or cancel them.
If a farmer does not make a decision by the deadline, he or she may be required to pay an extra $600 a year in premiums.
Nordella said the board was working to find ways to manage risk.
But he also said there will be no immediate changes in the wheat crop insurance program.
Farm Insurance Minister Scott Brison said he would be happy to have the board work with farmers to find a solution to the crisis, but it is likely to take a year to figure it out.
“You can expect the industry to continue to operate normally,” he told reporters on Friday.
“I think it’s a difficult situation, and there are people who will be hurt by it,” said David Bouchard, president of the Canadian Wheat Board of Ontario.
“But at least there will still be wheat.
It is a good thing to have.”
A spokesperson for the province said the province would not comment on the Wheat Insurance Board’s future without the province receiving more information.