Farmers want ministers to make program progress

Business risk management programs should be the priority when Canada’s agriculture ministers gather in Quebec City next week, says the AgGrowth Coalition.

The coalition, which includes the country’s major grain and general farm organizations, has announced a four-point plan to improve BRM programs.

Co-chair Jeff Nielsen, who also heads Grain Growers of Canada, said coalition members will be at the July 17-19 meeting to make their case if not directly, at least in conversations outside the meeting.

“We want immediate action, period,” he said.

Farmers across the country have experienced significant weather challenges this spring and summer. In the West, recent rain has alleviated some of the widespread dry conditions but not enough.

“I don’t think the pressure is off,” said Nielsen.

As well, ongoing trade issues with China and other countries have put producers at risk.

“Farmers from across the country are facing risks beyond their control,” said co-chair Markus Haerle from Grain Farmers of Ontario. “We’ve been told for years that change is coming and it is time for action by the FPT ministers on BRM programming.”

The four requests are:

  • AgriStability coverage be immediately adjusted to cover losses starting at 85 percent of reference margins with no reference margin limits.
  • Prioritize discussion on production insurance for livestock and horticulture crops that aren’t covered by AgriInsurance.
  • Meaningful discussion on BRM programming options that focus on effectiveness rather than funding levels.
  • Establishment of an industry-government technical working group that would allow farmer participation in BRM data and impact analysis.

Ministers ordered a review of BRM programs, specifically AgriStability, at their 2017 meeting and later appointed an external expert panel to inform the committee.

Last year, ministers accepted the panel report but opted not to continue with the external panel, leading to industry concern.

For the past year, government officials have been looking at BRMs and are to report next week. Previously, a Saskatchewan official said he didn’t expect changes during the five-year term of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which ends March 31, 2023.

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