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Ontario farmers press for financial aid to weather long summer drought

Soybean crops like these in Moose Creek, Ont., are heavily affected by the season’s dry weather, as are hay and corn crops.

Dave Chan/The Globe and Mail

Farmers who've had their crops obliterated this summer by long-lasting drought conditions need quick financial aid, says the head of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.

"This disaster is still unfolding," said Mark Wales during a tour of three farms in the Ottawa region Tuesday. "It's getting worse every day."

Corn, hay and soybean crops have been the most affected by the excessively dry weather conditions this season, with Eastern Ontario being one of the hardest hit.

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According to Environment Canada, the average rainfall for July in Ottawa was 89 millimetres. By the end of the month, the agency only recorded 12 millimetres of rain for the area.

Mr. Wales said the scorching hot weather has forced livestock farmers to dip into hay reserves usually not used until November.

Additional rainfall this month may be able to save the soybean crops, but the corn crops are finished for the season, said Mr. Wales.

Some farmers report that corn cobs that are usually harvested at 45 cm long are only growing to about 10 cm this year.

"This just shows how important it is that we have rainfall," he said.

"We can do everything right as a farmer but if mother nature chooses not to rain, that is something that is totally out of our control."

Last week, Ontario asked the federal government to allow farmers affected by the drought to apply for tax breaks and financial aid earlier than usual.

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