Ministers will discuss AgriStability changes

Canadian agriculture ministers will gather in Ottawa Dec. 17 intending to change AgriStability.

However, any changes would be minor rather than major program restructuring.

The ministers had discussed ways to adjust the program at their annual meeting in Quebec City last July. It has fallen out of favour with farmers because it doesn’t provide enough coverage.

“We agreed to meet again this fall to discuss further, and directed our officials to come back to us with a set of improvements to be implemented in 2020,” federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said at the time.

Saskatchewan has since shopped around some improvements it wants to see around allowable expenses under AgriStability and how the program treats private insurance payments.

These types of changes could be made within the current funding arrangement and with the agreement of seven of 10 provinces.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership contains the same amount of funding as each five-year agreement has since 2003 and doesn’t expire until March 31, 2023.

Saskatchewan minister David Marit has said sooner changes could address “low-hanging fruit” to enhance the program without impacting government budgets.

Farm organizations have said that business risk management programs are broken and need a complete restructuring.

Longer-term work to deal with predictability, timeliness and the complexity of AgriStability will continue.

Ministers are also expected to discuss ongoing trade concerns with China and Italy. Bibeau’s new mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that Canada has to respond better and provide “faster short-term support” to farmers when needed.

Biosecurity plans to prevent African swine fever are also on the agenda.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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