The Georgian Bay Fruit Growers group is seeking federal-provincial tornado disaster relief funds and any other help governments will provide.
Thirteen farmers met Tuesday to help quantify their losses after a visit by provincial Liberal Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky over the weekend to view tornado damage.
The tornado that ripped through the Beaver Valley Aug. 20 destroyed an estimated 13.5 million apples, or 4.5 million pounds worth, said local apple grower Brian Gilroy, chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers.
Total losses, including capital and orchard damage and resulting lost future earnings, is pegged roughly at $9 million, Gilroy said.
“This is a very serious situation and we are working through what programs we have as quickly as we can,” Kelly Synnott, the minister’s communications adviser, said yesterday. “We are still waiting on the final tally of the overall damage.”
The minister has met with her officials to determine what help might be applicable, Synnott said.
There’s a federal-provincial disaster relief fund, which requires detailed information about the scope of the damage, she said.
“The apple industry needs nurturing right now, especially right now in the Georgian Bay area, because we produce about 25 to 30 per cent of Ontario’s apples,” Gilroy said.
Otherwise, the infrastructure of suppliers and processors relied on by apple growers could be diminished, he said.
Some farms like his small 10 acre-plot were left unscathed. Among the 13 storm-damaged farms, some were devastated, with both apples and trees blown away or damaged.