P.E.I. farmers waiting to hear on claim for assistance after Dorian damage
Application has been submitted to the federal AgriRecovery program
Farmers across P.E.I., including a group of corn producers, are now waiting to hear from Ottawa after tallying up their losses from post-tropical storm Dorian, which the Federation of Agriculture says were "in the millions."
An application for federal compensation, through the AgriRecovery program, has been submitted on behalf of corn producers, as well as beef and hog producers, dairy farmers and apple growers.
Randy Drenth, who has about 50 hectares of corn in Summerfield, P.E.I., saw his yield cut in half because of damage from Dorian.
"Last year, our corn crop got seriously impacted with damage from the hurricane," Drenth said.
"We lost yield. We lost quality. Everything that we don't want to happen, happened all in one night."
Drenth said the early part of 2020 was tough, waiting to hear if the application to AgriRecovery was moving forward.
"It was very stressful at the time," Drenth said.
"There's always unknowns and then with the COVID thing, the markets were fluctuating and there was another level of unknowns."
Drenth said planting time was also stressful.
"This spring was a real challenge and was a real challenge for a lot of growers, just trying to figure out the financial side of how we can put a new crop in the ground," Drenth said.
"The AgriRecovery application still is moving forward but there is no certainty, to go to any lenders to say that this money was coming."
Drenth said many producers had to find other ways to be able to afford to plant a crop this season.
"I've spoken to some producers that were able to get more loans, some that were able to just not pay off operating lines and push them forward to this year," Drenth said.
"Some that were just really struggling to be able to even find input suppliers that would allow them to put a crop in the ground."
Robert Godfrey of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture said sending the application to Ottawa has been an important step.
"If Ottawa agrees with the province, and agrees with the data that was provided, then we can potentially have a payout sometime later this year," Godfrey said.
The federation worked with the provincial Department of Agriculture to develop a survey that went out to commodity groups affected by Dorian.
The province also had to put in the application for federal relief — based on the information gathered about the damages from Dorian.
Godfrey said COVID-19 did delay the process as the surveys went out in mid-March. The data has now been submitted to the federal government as part of the application process.
Godfrey won't say the dollar figure of the damages, other than it is "in the millions."
"Now that the application's in Ottawa's hands, we are hoping that things move quickly and that we get money to producers," Godfrey said.
"Because we are talking millions of dollars of damage."
Godfrey said he has heard from producers, frustrated at the time it has taken to get the application to the federal government.
"The process is very comprehensive, as it should be," Godfrey said.
"But certainly it's been drawn out to a point now where people are starting to wonder where are we on this, why hasn't this been completed and the federation shares that at this point."
Drenth said he hopes Island farmers will hear back soon from the federal government.
"The sooner, the better," Drenth said.
"I know that it takes a lot of time and everybody wants to be sure of the numbers before we move forward, but just to have some kind of certainty, that something is coming, would definitely help."
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