Producers who graze their cattle have a new option for protecting themselves from underperforming pastures.
Ron Kostyshyn, minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, announced January 19 that the province has lifted limitations on the pasture days insurance program.
The program is designed to compensate producers who have had to remove livestock from pasture and start supplemental feeding earlier than expected.
“We really encourage producers to take advantage of things like the pasture, price or forage insurance. These are important tools for producers to be able to utilize and mitigate some of that risk, so we were really pleased to see that program open up,” said Melinda German, general manager of Manitoba Beef Producers.
Administered through the Manitoba Agricultural Service Corporation (MASC), the program was initiated last year as a pilot project with a limit of 90 producers. It will run for the next three years with no limitation on participation.
“This is the first year we can promote it province-wide,” said Craig Thomson, vice-president of insurance operations with MASC. “We should find out if it will catch on or not.”
MASC has 18 crop insurance offices throughout the province but only promoted the pilot out of two of its offices in 2015.
“We think we’ve paid out around $600,000 in 2015, which is pretty substantial. The program is working,” said Thomson.
MASC assesses the acres entering the program and calculates how many cattle the pasture should handle for ‘X’ number of days. Over time, coverage is based on the cattle producer’s history.
Removing participation restrictions will give the province an idea of how widely used the program will be and whether it is a tool it should continue to offer.
“We have seen insurance be a real hit and miss and I think that usage really depends on the demographic of the producer in the industry. For so long this industry has been self-insuring and taking care of their own business needs, so it is a big change for some producers,” said German. “But, when these tools become available to producers and the industry has the chance to provide feedback into government to improve the programs, it is a win-win in my mind.”
MASC is offering a one-time 0.25 per cent interest rate cut on its stocker loan program for producers who also purchase Western Livestock Price Insurance.
“This (interest rate cut) is an effort on our part to get people to think about the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program. It’s a good combination,” said Thomson.