Proposed changes to AgriStability await provincial, territorial approval
By Greenhouse Canada
By Greenhouse Canada
The federal government is urging all provincial and territorial ministers to support proposed changes to the AgriStability program.
In an open letter from the Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, and Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the co-chairs of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) agriculture ministerial meetings highlight how COVID-19 has challenged farmers in unprecedented ways and the urgent need for enhancements to the AgriStability program.
“From labour, to housing, to processing issues every aspect of farming has been impacted by the pandemic. Through it all, our farmers have pressed on and continued to work tirelessly to ensure that their workers are kept safe from the outbreak and that our grocery stores remain stocked with safe, nutritious, Canadian food. However, farmers across the country continue to face challenges, which is why the swift endorsement and delivery of this enhanced AgriStability program is critical.”
Proposed improvements include removing the reference margin limit, as well as increasing the AgriStability compensation rate from 70 per cent to 80 per cent.
The program offers farm coverage designed to cover large declines in net income in times of disaster. It provides protection against losses relating to falling production and commodity prices, and rising input costs, including many COVID-19 related factors.
“Taken together this would result in a 50 per cent increase, around $170 million per year in direct support to farmers who need it the most,” says the release. But this change will require a large majority of support from provinces and territories soon.
“Accepting the proposed changes soon is key to ensuring the enhanced supports can be applied retroactively to 2020, something we know farmers across the country have been asking for.”
The federal government will contribute 60 per cent of the funds, while provinces and territories will contribute 40 per cent. “We thank those provinces who have already confirmed their participation and hope to hear from those others soon.”
The release also notes how proposed changes to AgriStability “may not be the perfect solution for all farmers or governments, they reflect a good start to achieving a national consensus and allow Canada’s Agriculture Ministers to continue discussing enhancements to the program while still improving supports for farmers today.”
The federal government will also be visiting the available suite of Business Risk Management programs, beginning with consultations for the next five-year policy framework, which starts in 2023.
Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs