Brandon — When Canada’s agriculture ministers meet this week in St. John’s, N.L., a coalition of farm groups hopes they announce a “comprehensive review” of business risk management (BRM) programs.
Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) is among them. Manitoba’s general farm organization wants improvements to AgriInvest, and especially AgriStability.
“(AgriStability) is not doing what it was intended to do at the very first,” KAP president Dan Mazier told delegates attending an advisory council meeting here July 13. “It has turned into a disaster (relief) program for us all. It’s really too bad.”
When the current five-year ‘Growing Forward 2’ agricultural policy framework came into effect four years ago, AgriStability reference margins were slashed making it much harder for farmers to trigger payouts when production or prices fell.
KAP vice-president Bill Campbell said it’s even harder for diversified farmers.
“It has really divided the farm community insomuch as the single-commodity producer has a chance (for a payout) if they have a problem, whereas the diversified farm and the guy who looks after himself will never collect AgriStability,” he said. “And you pay a premium and you pay an accountant’s fee to be part of it.”
Without stability, farmers will not invest in adding value to their operations, Campbell added.
Mazier said the new agricultural policy framework, scheduled to take effect April 1, 2018, will not get any additional funding. However, policy-makers seemed interested when farmers suggested keeping the same budgets, but making safety net programs more efficient, Mazier said.
“It’s not a money issue but a more efficiency issue,” he said. “We’ve got to do something a bit better here. Even if we don’t have any more money we can do better.”
Canada’s AgGrowth Coalition was formed earlier this year to push for business risk management program reforms.
The coalition members include the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Grain Growers of Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, the National Sheep Network and the Canadian Horticultural Council.