Prov­ince funds DON test­ing through soil group

The Observer (Sarnia) - - NEWS - LOUIS PIN

Some farm­ers across On­tario will be able to ap­ply to the On­tario Soil and Crop Im­prove­ment As­so­ci­a­tion for up to $2,500 in fund­ing to off­set test­ing for mouldy corn.

An­nounced by the soil group this week, the fund — sup­plied through the five-year, $3-bil­lion Cana­dian Agri­cul­ture Part­ner­ship launched in April – is for farm­ers un­able to sell their corn due to high lev­els of vom­i­toxin, a mould also known as DON. This mould largely ru­ined what would have oth­er­wise been a bumper crop for corn across On­tario.

Through the cost-shar­ing pro­gram, farm­ers are el­i­gi­ble for up to 50 per cent of the costs for test­ing corn for mould at grain el­e­va­tors or in labs, as well as for pur­chas­ing test­ing equip­ment. Farm­ers are only el­i­gi­ble is they tested af­ter Oct. 12 and if an ini­tial test came out to greater than five parts per mil­lion.

“Once they’ve iden­ti­fied (the prob­lem), farm­ers can ap­ply to the cost-share pro­gram for ad­di­tional as­sis­tance (for) test­ing,” Barb Caswell, pro­gram co-or­di­na­tor with the soil group, said. “So test­ing corn that’s still on the field, test­ing corn that’s been har­vested but they haven’t yet at­tempted to mar­ket it.”

The pro­gram is also retroac­tive. If a farmer tested for corn af­ter Oct. 12 and dis­cov­ered it con­tained more than five parts per mil­lion of mould, they can re­im­burse some costs through the cost-shar­ing pro­gram.

Some farm­ers are di­vided on whether the fund­ing does enough, es­pe­cially for those fac­ing un­met com­mit­ments. On Fri­day, pro­vin­cial Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Ernie Harde­man said the gov­ern­ment is still bring­ing peo­ple to­gether to ad­dress the DON prob­lem, but that other ma­jor an­nounce­ments would have to wait un­til in­sur­ance claims are filed and ad­dressed.

“That’s go­ing to have to play out,” Harde­man said. “Right now, what we want to do is make sure we get as much of the corn off (the field) as we can, get it tested prop­erly, and get what we can uti­lize into the mar­ket­place.”

Harde­man met a num­ber of ag groups and mar­ket play­ers in early Novem­ber and again last week to de­ter­mine how the corn can be used, and whether there are op­por­tu­ni­ties to use the oth­er­wise un­us­able grain.

“There’s no rea­son to be­lieve that this is the last time we’re go­ing to have vom­i­toxin prob­lems,” Harde­man said. “So we want to take all the in­for­ma­tion we’re gath­er­ing to­day to make sure we can look for so­lu­tions (in fu­ture years).”

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