AgriInsurance – a business risk management program supported by the Canada and Manitoba governments – announced on Tuesday that coverage will increase an average of 7% this year, while the average premium per acre will decrease by 4%. The federal and Manitoba governments are supporting AgriInsurance changes, giving producers higher coverage at a lower cost for 2016, Federal Agriculture Minister and Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development Minister said.
If you think the future of government support for agriculture lies in doing more of the same but only better, you’ll get little comfort from Manitoba’s Agriculture Risk Management Review Task Force report released last week. That’s not to say there aren’t some encouraging recommendations, starting with an acknowledgment that governments have a role in helping farmers insure against increased weather risks from climate change. There is also recognition of the need for publicly supported research and extension.
The notion that society should share the risks inherent to farming in an environment as unpredictable as the Prairies is deeply embedded in Canadian farm policy. Farmers have been able to buy government-subsidized crop insurance in some form since the federal Prairie Farm Assistance Act was passed in 1939. But the model in use today, in which the cost is shared equally between farmers, the province and the federal government, first came into being in the late 1950s. Of all the farm support programs that have come and gone during the decades, insurance has remained relatively intact.
Programs: 1. Consider a new permanent cover program to compensate producers for taking marginal land out of production. 2. Encourage insurance programs to promote the use of novel crops and ensure programs respond more quickly to the impact of climate change. 3. Continue to promote policies that reward and incentivize best management practices, including reforms to insurance, extension activities and other government programming. 4. Continue to develop the Excess Moisture Insurance program so that premiums and coverage reflect the risk and improve the long-term viability of the program.
2015 was a challenging year for many producers who rely on forage for seed, sale or feed. Dry conditions are an insurable cause of loss when it comes to the Forage Insurance Program offered through the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Program. There are a number of crops insurable under this program including tame hay, dehydrated alfalfa, sweetclover and greenfeed. Additional choices such as Establishment Benefit and Forage Diversification options are also made available under this program.
Ontario Apple farmers are crossing their fingers this year's weird winter weather won't damage the province's $60-million apple crop. A super El Nino has climatologists forecasting a delayed winter with rising and falling temperatures, which could affect many fruit tree and nut bearing tree crops. A sudden freeze on May 23, 2015 wiped out half of Ontario's apple crop this year, affecting farmers across the province including Eastern Ontario.
It's been a bad year for farmer. And herds of elk are making things worse. Crittenden farms near Hudson Bay, Sask., approximately 320 kilometres north-east of Saskatoon. Due to wet conditions this fall, much of his crop remains unharvested, and still in the field. As the winter approaches, elk herd up into larger herds of 10, 20, 50, and they begin to graze on the available crop. Farmer plans to harvest his crop this spring, but worries about the foraging animals damaging the plants.
Now that the winter snow has finally arrived, it's time for another reminder for farmers to make sure they take the time to monitor grain bins on a regular basis. With the variable weather conditions at harvest in some areas, it’s very important to monitor the stored grain closely. Producers want to make sure the stored crop is not losing condition — especially canola.
The elimination of the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Agency by the Harper government has stripped western farmers of their best tool for coping with droughts and other climate change challenges, says a researcher at the University of Regina. The folding of the PFRA into Agriculture Canada’s bureaucracy removed the extension workers from the field at the time when the farmers need information on adapting their operations to the risks of higher temperatures and less precipitation that accompanies climate change.
It had been a second brutal winter, one most unkind to vineyards. During 2014, low temperatures in some parts of the region dipped below -20°C through the worst of the freeze-up. Last winter provided a repeat of those wintery extremes. Earlier this year, Niagara grape grower feared the worst. Numbers continue to be down following two hard winters, but Ontario’s grape growers have still topped last year’s harvest.
Agriculture may be the most weather-impacted industry on the planet — by far — but it isn’t the only industry that’s affected by the vagaries of temperature and rain. It’s estimated that a third of the United States’ GDP and 70 per cent of firms in the United Kingdom are also exposed to weather risk. Recently, Canadian farmers have begun exploring the use of weather derivatives to mitigate weather risk, particularly for higher-value crops like seed. It’s a relatively new tool for farmers, but weather derivatives were first introduced as long ago as the 1990s as a way for the energy sector to hedge against temperature-based usage swings.
The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation is gearing up for an influx of claims prior to the November 15th deadline. About 4,200 claims have been filed to date. Sask Crop Insurance says 2,236 post-harvest claims have been settled, totalling $28.6 million. The five year average (2010-2014) for post-harvest claims is 9,533 providing $175.8 million in payments. Claims are filed when a producer's actual crop yield and/or quality does not meet their coverage level.
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