Letters to the editor – March 23, 2017

Sask. Crop Insurance

I am writing this letter with regard to the denial of my, and my neighbors,’ too-wet-to-seed claims last June. We all had some crop seeded; I had my peas seeded by May 18, as I am in a pea-oat rotation on the five quarters I farm. Last spring was early, warm and dry after our previous year’s drought and we were happy to see rain. Between May 18 and the seeding deadline for my oats, June 20, I and my neighbours received at least eight inches of rain in amounts ranging from 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches every few days along a narrow southeasterly rain track.

As a result, I had 160 acres that I wasn’t able to seed. My historical seeding intensity is about 90 percent and so I filed a claim, which was denied.

There were as many as 11 producers in that rain track whose claims were denied or not even accepted. Some are organic farmers, most are not. At least three of us went all the way through the appeals process ending with an appeal to the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. advisory panel in Regina Nov. 28. We were all denied.

The initial claim denial letter said “coverage is to provide compensation in the event that there is no opportunity to seed your normal seeded acreage by June 20 due to the excessive moisture.”

In the Guide to Understanding Crop Insurance SCIC brochure, page 26 outlines the Unseeded Acreage option. The paragraph there reads, “Eligible acres are the acres you normally seed that remain unseeded by June 20 due to excessive spring moisture.” This is what I think producers have as an understanding of their coverage and I have had 40 years of continuous crop insurance coverage. Also, what about the cost to SCIC to cover the reseeding benefit paid to those who seeded early and their crops either didn’t establish or were frozen?

With the reality of climate change, the weather is unpredictable and extreme. Producers need crop insurance coverage. One hundred dollars per acre doesn’t cover the replacement of a lost crop opportunity. If we were too wet last year and our claims were denied, what can we expect from SCIC this year?

The actual USA coverage didn’t start until after the disasters of 2010 and 2011, when we were told there would be no more ad hoc payment programs and we had to take out SCIC coverage. Also, if you want Canadian Canola Growers Association crop input financing, or even some bank financing, you must have crop insurance coverage. The new climate reality would indicate that USA policy might need some re-examination, along with coverage levels that reflect the cost of production or the value of the lost crop.

I and my neighbours wonder if there are other producers out there who had similar experiences or who share our concerns. We were told we could take legal action, and I recently learned that a small claims court action can be filed on these denied claims. You must file within two years of the initial filing claiming date up to a $30,000 claim. In this situation you serve as your own lawyer, although I would get some advice. I think a call to your MLA, or the Minister of Agriculture or the NDP agriculture critic, Cathy Sproule, or all three, would be in order to express your concern.

Because what conditions are we facing in 2017 considering how wet it was last fall? Is SCIC really there to help farmers insure against the risks they face in crop production? Or will we be faced with more arbitrary decisions based on policy we are unaware of or based on the tightness of the government budget?

Jim Liggett,
Winner, South Dakota

Saskatchewan Economy?

In the past and presumably in the future, oil, potash and grain prices will rise and fall. Potash and oil prices seem to have larger rebounds and affect the economy almost immediately. When grain prices do rebound, farmers will not see the full increase as there are too many middlemen skimming profits.

Farmers now do not sell directly to the buyer since the destruction of the Canadian Wheat Board. Premier Brad Wall made the biggest mistake in Saskatchewan history by staying silent and not opposing the Harper government’s vendetta of killing the farmer controlled CWB in 2012. That has cost at least $300 million per year to the Saskatchewan economy.

This loss of income to producers and taxpayers of Saskatchewan now goes to the foreign grain companies and bypasses Canada.

Wall has big financial problems in Saskatchewan because of his mismanagement. Saskatchewan has probably gone through its best three economic years and yet with just a one year downturn Saskatchewan is $1.2 billion in deficit.

Wall’s solution to the debt is to cut service sector wages, sell off money-earning assets like liquor and telephone etc., while also raising taxes to low-income earners. But not one word about raising taxes for his corporate buddies, who should be paying their fair share of the Saskatchewan debt.

It’s amazing that the commercial groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Canadian Federation of Independent Business could not see the loss of revenues for the province of Saskatchewan with the loss of the CWB. Oh yeah, they were the groups promoting its destruction and now their members want tax breaks? The money that was lost would make Saskatchewan almost deficit free. Good work Brad.

Eric Sagan
Melville, Sask.


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