Next policy framework funding amount still not determined

Ottawa is non-committal on how much money will be up for grabs

OTTAWA — As Ottawa and the provinces move toward a new agricultural policy framework, the question of how much money the five-year deal will contain looms large.

Conservative agriculture critic David Anderson noted that three pillars were added after the ministerial meeting in Calgary last July, but there has been no indication of whether any more money will be offered to pay for them.

“The government has refused to make any kind of commitment at all,” he said in an interview after addressing the Canadian Federation of Agriculture’s annual meeting.

The current $3 billion agreement, funded 60 percent by Ottawa and 40 percent by the provinces, expires March 31, 2018, and ministers are expected to sign the new deal in Newfoundland and Labrador this summer.

However, farmers across Canada have been lobbying to improve business risk management programs, AgriStability in particular, and that would take more money.

Adding climate change and environment, public trust and value-added and food processing to the framework also raises questions about whether the funding envelope will be larger.

Several governments, including Ottawa and Saskatchewan, are already dealing with large deficits and signalling tough budgets.

ADVERTISMENT

Federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay told the CFA meeting that negotiations continue, but he won’t say anything publicly “until we get something together.”

He noted that participation in AgriStability has dropped from about 60 percent of eligible participants to 30 percent.

“That is just not working,” he said. “It’s a 60-40 formula, we’re attempting to put it together and hopefully we will be able to do so.”

Alberta delegate Humphrey Banack said improved business risk management programs are critical.

“At the levels we’re at, at the 70 percent coverage level for AgriStability, it just doesn’t cover those risks,” he said, adding that some sectors have no coverage at all.

MacAulay replied that farmers and organizations should push their provincial ministers on the issue, too, because they all have to agree.

ADVERTISMENT

“I have to have the support of the provinces,” he said.

The House of Commons agriculture committee has just completed its report on the next policy framework, but it hasn’t yet been made public.

Anderson said federal officials who appeared before the committee were non-committal on the topic of funding.

“I think farmers need to pay attention to this, just keep their eye on what’s being included in this and then how they might expect to see that money being spent,” he said.

Some have expressed concern about how much money value-added and food processing would require from a pot that is already smaller than it was in the 2008-13 agreement.

A resolution from the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan that would restrict framework funding to primary agriculture was narrowly defeated.

ADVERTISMENT

  • Dayton

    We opted out of Agristabilty. Organic farmers have no coverage at all. Only guarantee we have is the premiums will increase.

    • ed

      AgriStability is a very big pain. Because the Organic industry is a much less fraudulent market place than the conventional ag. market place, Agristabiliy that works on great amounts of variability can not kick too high too often. It is most likely stable enough and financially sustainable enough that you are probably much better off without it.

  • ed

    Farmers need funding to the levels that would bring their debt back down from it’s present $80-90 Billon level to a more manageable levels of the 1970’s of around $10-15 Billion. Margins were much higher then and with very little off farm income, farms were very sustainable on their operational incomes. With present debt loads where they are, and with practically 80% of all “net” farm income figures actually being represented by off farm jobs, this bubble is simply not sustainable. Tax payer programs will need to be very rich to pull this debt down to appropriate levels or food security and sovereignty and food affordability will need to become just more romantic ideologies of the past. This will trigger massive trade fights from our trading partners unless we pay farmers very large amounts “not produce” a product, rather than small amounts “to” produce a produce. Other much more expensive challenges will back fill this farm financial fumble once the coffin lid is nailed shut on this Ag. non-support issue. For mankind, that is really just par for the coarse, however, and doing better is not something that you could realistically expect.