Winter injury in Ontario grapevines is so severe that the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) estimate that only half a crop will be harvested in fall 2022, a major hit to the sector that realized $110 million farmgate value last year. Replacement costs can top $45,000 per acre. And it will take several years for new vines to come into production.
That’s why GGO invited Premier Doug Ford, ag minister Lisa Thompson and MPP Sam Oosterhoff to view the winter injury first-hand on August 10, 2022 and to communicate the long-term ripple effects on the economy. George II Farms and Huebel Grapes Estates hosted the event, while board members Erwin Wiens and Joe Schenck shared their experiences.
“We were very hopeful going into the season with estimates of 60 per cent bud survival,” explains Matthias Oppenlaender, GGO chair. “But the buds stalled and collapsed.”
If growers choose to replace vines, the time to order is now. A two-year lead time is required for delivery. That’s an unexpected outlay of capital with the knowledge that this year’s cash flow will be crimped. It’s particularly tough on the next generation of grape growers, says Oppenlaender.
As the grape growers explained to the premier, crop insurance covers some of the costs, but only for one year. It does not cover the long-lasting damage to the vineyards. It’s hoped that Agri-Recovery, the cost-shared program with the federal government, will be initiated by the Ontario government. That’s one of the avenues of support which could be tapped going forward.
The premier’s visit came just days after he tabled the provincial government’s 2022/23 budget.
While not included in the budget narrative, GGO confirmed that the following commitments are included in the fiscal budget:
- $10 million in 2022–23 for ongoing support and expansion of the Enhanced Agri‐Food Workplace Protection Program to help farms and agri‐food operations take additional measures to support the health and safety of agri‐food workers;
- $10 million COVID recovery fund for Ontario wineries and cideries to help them address the challenges posed by COVID. Wineries will be able to use these funds to invest in many activities including promotion, market development and tourism recovery;
- Expanded, multi-year funding of the VQA support program through 2024/25.
Source: Grape Growers of Ontario August 12, 2022 newsletter