By Owen Roberts for FCC Express
Following a five-year review, Ontario’s wildlife damage compensation program is being revised for more consistency across the province.
Effective Jan. 1, 2017, compensation rates will be aligned with current market values.
Traditionally, payout rates have varied throughout the province. Now, says Adam Meyer, program administrator at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the province will switch to a standardized valuation model.
Fair market value
It will pay producers the fair market value they would receive in the open market for animals with similar characteristics, such as age and weight.
“The list of eligible livestock and predators remains unchanged,” Meyer says, adding Ontario’s program leads the nation for providing fair and comprehensive compensation for predation losses.
The wildlife damage compensation program is OMAFRA’s oldest program, dating back to 1862. In recent times, the program has typically paid a total of $1.4 to $1.5 million annually to producers for losses to livestock and poultry from predators.
700 claims in 2015
Last year, the biggest payment – $152,000 – went towards paying almost 700 claims in Grey County.
Most payments are made for sheep, followed by cattle and poultry. Coyotes, wolves and bears are the most common predators.
Meyer says the revisions include clearer standards of evidence and evaluation, and a one-step appeal process.
For example, municipalities, which help deliver the program, will have a renewed focus on finding evidence of losses – such as site visits, taking photos and gathering facts around the incident – than determining the value of the loss.
“These changes are about being clearer, improving the integrity of the program and public accountability,” says Meyer. “The province wants to help farmers to be competitive, and wants to compensate them for their losses.”
The program is funded through the Growing Forward 2 initiative.