The Haliburton County Farmers Association (HCFA) says it has connected with a new veterinarian willing to come to the County on some Fridays.

HCFA secretary, Jean Schlicklin Tyler, said, “when there are a number of people willing to have a vet, they may come for ongoing vaccines and medical check ups for farm animals. This builds a relationship between the vet and the caregivers for future critical care, with the hope of participation in the Veterinary Assistant Program (VAP) for the County.”

Schlicklin Tyler added, “this is a win, win, win for everyone involved, if we work together.”

The HCFA held its annual general meeting Jan. 18 at Castle Antiques. Schlicklin Tyler said they continue to “flourish in a climate of challenge.”

She said a lack of access to a large animal vet in the County is the most significant problem facing farmers, other than a perceived lack of support by Dysart council on the Haliburton farmers market.

“The townspeople continue to see the benefit of farmers, so we keep working with the different provincial ministries and provincial organizations working on issues in agriculture. Our County is not alone in this crisis. The reduced number of graduating vets for large animal care, the change of regulations to access medical resources, the lack of vet technicians in the communities, emergency care of any kind, and the loss of local abattoirs to process meat has become a crisis across the province.”

At the meeting, Minna Schleifenbaum was reconfirmed for a second year as president, along with an active board of 11 executives and directors. Godfrey Tyler, as the Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) representative, presented information for the Northern Producer Animal Health Network (NPAHN). He introduced Jordan Miller, of BFO, as the two organizations are working on the vet crisis from a provincial perspective, Schlicklin Tyler said.

“There are hopeful signs reported – money for a vet incentive for any clinic applying with a new vet. The VAP is being reviewed by the Ontario Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. People are being urged to contact their MPP and other organizations involved in this crisis to bring solutions from the grassroots of our community,” she added.

Schlicklin Tyler said communications are locally growing “with a dynamic leadership and the membership of HCFA.” She said with community efforts, there has been a table at the farmers markets in the summer, co-hosted by BFO and HCFA, that gives free material and information about the local food providers and other groups involved in production.

There is ongoing work for more clinics and educational tours with the support of the County tourism office to learn more about food production. There is also a plan for a two-day environmental farm workshop that interested people can sign up for now, to be hosted in April.