Crop insurance premiums in Saskatchewan will rise on average by 8.5 percent in 2017.
Saskatchewan agriculture minister Lyle Stewart announced the rate increase Feb 23, along with officials from the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp.
The increase will translate into average crop insurance premiums of $8.51 per acre in 2017, up from $7.84 in 2016.
Actual premiums paid by producers will vary from farm to farm, based on the types of crops insured and the type of coverage selected.
Stewart said the premium in-crease is mainly attributed to the cost of insuring higher value crops such as lentils and canola.
“In 2017, farmers will have access to the highest level of coverage in the program’s history,” Stewart said.
“On average, coverage is up to $217 per acre from $216 in 2016.
The improved coverage is a result of the continuation of strong forecasted crop prices and increased long-term yields.”
Other than the rate increase, Stewart said SCIC programming will see only minor changes this year.
“There are not a lot of major changes to the crop insurance program this year, due to fiscal constraint,” he said.
“The reasons that we did not enter into major enhancements are fiscal reasons. We didn’t want to increase our liabilities too much … but we … did come up with some more minor enhancements that I think will be of great assistance to many producers.”
Stewart said the crop averaging program will be more flexible this year, offering growers more choices when selecting premiums and coverage levels.
“Producers can now select and pay premium at the 50, 60, 70 or 80 percent level in return for higher coverage,” Stewart said.
“Previously, they could only choose the 80 percent level.”
Establishment benefit values will also be increased for some crops in 2017.
The establishment benefit for large green lentils will increase to $60 per acre and to $40 per acre for other types of lentils. Establishment benefits for soybeans will increase to $100.
The total budget for 2017 crop insurance programming will increase to nearly $720 million.
That number includes a $172 million contribution from the province, about $286 million from the federal government and the remainder — roughly $258 million — generated through producer premiums.
SCIC is still processing crop insurance claims from last year.
It has processed claims worth $497 million so far, but that number is expected to increase to around $650 million by the time all claims are processed.
It is a significant payout compared to many years, but it is not the largest payout ever recorded at SCIC.
In 2002, widespread drought resulted in total claim payments of more than $1.2 billion.
More than 29 million acres were insured by SCIC in 2016, the largest area ever insured in the province.
Saskatchewan growers produced the second largest crop in the province’s history, but Stewart called 2016 growing season “one of the more challenging” in recent memory.
“There’s about 1.3 million acres that did not get harvested last fall, and that is always an issue going into the following crop year,” he said.
“That material has to be harvested and taken off the field before any seeding can happen there.”