Crop insurance says it needs direction on rotations

Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. has the power to crack down on tight canola rotations by denying crop insurance to farmers who seed canola into canola stubble.

However, it says it will use that hammer only if the Saskatchewan Canola Development Commission and other industry players are in agreement.

“We want to work closely with industry. If industry feels that’s something we need to head on the path … maybe looking at how insurance plays a role in all of this, we’ll be looking to them and having consultations,” said president Shawn Jaques.

“I don’t think it’s something that, as a corporation, I want to come out and say, ‘this is what we’re doing.’ ”

Last fall at its annual convention, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities passed a resolution about canola and the increased risk of clubroot because of tight canola rotations.

SARM is lobbying the provincial government, asking that SCIC deny crop insurance to farmers who seed canola consecutively on the same land.

Jaques said there is a precedent for this in Saskatchewan.

Farmers who grow chickpeas can only seed the crop once every four years on the same field. Otherwise, they’re not eligible for coverage.

“The industry asked us that the rotations should be one in four years. That is a condition of growing chickpeas in our province,” Jaques said.

Nonetheless, the SCIC prefers to collaborate with commodity groups and grower organizations.

It doesn’t want to prescribe the terms of crop insurance.

While there are no immediate plans to deny crop insurance to farmers who seed canola into canola stubble, the corporation does have tools to discourage such behaviour.

If the cause of loss is due to rotation, for any crop, SCIC can deny or limit the coverage for the claim.

“That’s something we’ve had in place (for a long time),” Jaques said.

“It’s used occasionally…. We haven’t seen the yield impacts (from) people shortening their rotations.”

It’s difficult to get data on the percentage of canola seeded into canola acres each year. In 2016, an SCIC rep estimated that eight to 12 percent of canola is grown back to back in the northern grain belt and east-central Saskatchewan,.

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