Sask. crop insurance enhances grazing coverage

Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation has announced a handful of changes to its crop insurance programs for 2019, including higher coverage levels for tame and native grazing, new options for corn producers, an expanded seeding window for fall seeded cereal crops and enhanced coverage for predation losses affecting goat, lamb and bison producers.

On average, coverage levels for insured crop production will increase to a record $230 per acre, up from $216 per acre in 2018, SCIC announced during a Feb. 26 conference call.

However, average producer premiums will also rise by approximately 2.4 percent, increasing to $8.61 per acre this year from $8.41 an acre in 2018.

The increase in premiums will help to offset higher SCIC liabilities, which are projected at $6.6 billion in 2019, up from $6.3 billion in 2018.

SCIC will also add 55 new weather stations throughout the province, increasing the total number of stations to 186.

Adding the extra sites will cost SCIC between $200,000 and $250,000 but will enhance the corporation’s data collection system and ensure that the weather information being collected more accurately reflects conditions on farms that are insured.

Once the new stations are added, every farm in the province will be located within 30 kilometres of an SCIC weather station.

“By investing in sound risk management programming, we are providing a foundation for our agriculture industry to grow,” said Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit.

“We want farmers to be innovative, make sound business decisions and propel the industry forward as agriculture continues to be a major driver of our provincial economy.”

Shawn Jaques, president and chief executive officer of SCIC, said the most significant change for 2019 is the enhanced coverage options under the Forage Rainfall Insurance Program.

That program compensates grazers who receive less than 80 percent of their normal rainfall on either tame or native pasture.

The program has been in place for several years but coverage values had not been updated in some time.

“We found that … those (coverage) values needed updating because they weren’t reflecting accurately what the (actual) losses were,” Jaques said.

In 2019, grazers in the province’s black, dark brown and brown soil zones will be able manage premium costs by choosing between high, medium and low coverage levels.

Under the enhanced program, claimants will see a “fairly significantly increase (in coverage) from previous years,” Jaques added.

For example, growers in the black soil zone who choose the high coverage level could see payouts increase by as much as 280 percent this year relative to 2018.

For corn producers, the new Corn Rainfall Program will allow grain or forage corn producers to insure against production losses caused by inadequate rainfall.

In the past, corn growers have had the option of insuring production under the Corn Heat Unit Program.

Beginning this year, producers will be able cover their corn crops for as much as $300 an acre under either the Corn Rainfall Program, the Corn Heat Unit Program or a combination of both programs.

Jaques said 2018 was a challenging year for many Saskatchewan growers.

Some producers had excessive spring moisture, others had inadequate rainfall and many were challenged by an early snowfall that affected harvest operations.

Total producer payouts under the 2018 crop insurance program are expected to come in at around $300 million, compared to $198 million in 2017.

Despite that, the SCIC continues to have a “strong balance of funds.”

SCIC entered its 2018-19 fiscal year with an accumulated surplus of nearly $1.64 billion.

That surplus is likely to be around $1.9 billion by March 31, 2019.

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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