Eligible acres | ‘Permanent water bodies’ are not eligible
Some Saskatchewan farmers who were expecting insurance payments for unseeded acres because of excess moisture are discovering they won’t receives cheques this year, even though they did in past years.
Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. chief executive officer Shawn Jaques said the policy hasn’t changed, but adjusters now have time to get out and look.
He said the corporation has had complaints, but adjusters are following procedures they couldn’t follow in the past three years because the excess moisture resulted in so many claims.
“In 2010, ’11 and ’12 we auto-registered claims and we paid a number of them without even inspecting them,” he said.
“It was just so wet everywhere, so some of our procedures in completing the claims we changed.”
There were about 12,000 unseeded acreage claims in 2010, nearly 14,000 in 2011 and 10,000 last year.
Jaques said unseeded acreage claims are paid where a producer was able to prepare his land for a crop but was then flooded out. For example, producers will receive payments if sloughs were worked up or burned and the land put in condition for spring seeding before excess moisture made it impossible.
“Permanent water bodies, or land that has been wet for a number of years and will continue to be wet, or the producer couldn’t have done anything in the fall with that land, those aren’t eligible,” he said.
Arlynn Kurtz, who farms near Stockholm and is a vice-president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said he has heard lots of complaints, particularly from farmers in the east, central and southern parts of the province.
“I even took my claim right into the office and the first thing they told me was, ‘well, it’s under bulrushes now, how can you expect us to pay,’ ” he said. “I said, ‘whoa, whoa, whoa, this was winter wheat last year and we combined the field.’ ”
Kurtz said it seems the corporation is trying to save money by not paying as many claims.
Farmers are annoyed and some are threatening to cancel their policies. Others have mentioned the possibility of a class action lawsuit.
There are anecdotal reports of farmers expecting cheques of $70,000 who have been told they won’t receive a cent.
The unseeded acreage benefit provides $70 per eligible acre as part of the core crop insurance package. An eligible acre is one that is normally seeded but remains unseeded by June 20 because of excess moisture. Claims had to be made by June 25, although those submitted by July 2 could be accepted with reduced payments.
A five percent deductible on acres that are normally seeded is applied to quarters of land with acres deemed too wet to seed. Producers were also able to buy additional coverage for $15 or $30 per acre.
Kurtz said it sounds as if different crop insurance offices are approaching the issue differently, and the corporation must resolve the issue.
“There are some very irate farmers out there,” he said.
APAS has requested a meeting with agriculture minister Lyle Stewart, and this topic will be on the agenda, Kurtz said.