Ontario makes move on AgriStability funding

Ontario’s new agriculture minister, Lisa Thompson, has announced that province will increase the compensation rate for its share of AgriStability from 70 to 80 percent and said others should do the same.

“Ontario farmers can’t wait any longer for improvements to the AgriStability program, so the Ontario government is taking action and also calling on the federal government and other provinces to step up as well,” Thompson said in a news release.

Ottawa had proposed the compensation rate increase earlier this year but didn’t receive agreement from enough provinces, namely the Prairies. All provinces did agree to remove the reference margin limit.

Federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has said the federal offer remains on the table if it is cost-shared.

In a statement, she said she will continue to push for improving the business risk management programs so that farmers can rely on them.

“By now it should be well understood that in order to change AgriStability at the national level, we need a strong majority of provinces to agree. This is how our cost-shared five-year federal-provincial agreements work. The prairie provinces need to step up to make this happen,” she said.

Bibeau added that other provinces have also offered additional support on a provincial basis because they couldn’t reach consensus on the AgriStability compensation rate.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture said Ontario’s announcement should spur others to follow suit and said Ottawa should contribute its 60 percent share to those provinces who do.

“While the removal of the RML was greatly appreciated, both pieces of the federal proposal need to be adopted to bring the AgriStability program back to the strength it held before it was weakened in 2013,” said CFA president Mary Robinson.

“We hope that this bold action from Ontario, building on similar program enhancements in B.C., P.E.I. and Quebec, can inspire the other provinces to make a similar change.”

In Ontario, removing the RML and changing the compensation rate will add another $25 million to overall available risk management support.

Thompson, who owns a goat operation and had served in cabinet in other portfolios, replaced long-time agriculture minister Ernie Hardeman in a June 18 cabinet shuffle.

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