Organizers of the HayEast drive to run feed from Western Canada to ranchers in parched areas of Ontario and Quebec have picked up six-figure provincial support which they say will see the program through to June 1.
HayEast 2012, a partnership involving farm organizations across Canada and the Winnipeg-based Mennonite Disaster Service, was set up last fall to co-ordinate western Canadian farmers' response to the 2002 HayWest program, in which eastern farmers had sent hay to drought-stricken regions of the West.
The federal and Ontario governments in November pledged $500,000 for HayEast on a cost-shared basis, and to match cash donations to HayEast 2012 on a cost-shared basis up to $2.5 million. Access to those funds expired at the end of last month, organizers said recently.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture, however, announced Wednesday that the Ontario government has pledged up to $150,000 more for the program. On top of private donations, the added funding should see the program through to the end of May, the OFA said.
The new funding will cover transportation costs to truck available out-of-province hay to eligible Ontario farmers affected by the summer 2012 drought, the OFA said. "Many Ontario farmers are still in need of hay for their livestock, and the need will continue until pastures and the 2013 hay crop becomes available."
"These additional dollars for HayEast will help bring hay to Ontario producers over the next several months until pastures are ready," Ontario's premier/agriculture minister Kathleen Wynne said in the same release Wednesday.
Private donations can still be made to the HayEast program at any Scotiabank branch in Canada or online.
Wednesday's announcement dovetails with an extension announced the previous week by the federal and Ontario governments on some of the deadlines for the Canada-Ontario Forage Livestock Transportation Assistance initiative they set up in December.
The governments' program helps cover mileage costs to ship forage to ranches where it's needed, or to move animals to available feed.
Eligible Ontario producers now get until June 1 to transport forage to livestock, and until June 14 to submit the required paperwork to Agricorp, the province's ag funding delivery agency. Deadlines for transporting eligible livestock to feed have not changed.