“I’m quite sure they will not have enough money.”
– LAURENT PELLERIN, CFA
Livestock producers need immediate improvements to agricultural safety net programs or they may not be able to seed crops this spring, the head of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture warns.
That’s especially true for Canada’s financially ravaged hog farmers, Laurent Pellerin said following a federal-provincial agriculture ministers meeting last week.
“A lot of those farmers, if they have combined grain operations, will not have the liquidity to seed this spring,” Pellerin said. “I’m quite sure they will not have enough money.”
CFA is calling for emergency short-term adjustments to AgriStability to help struggling livestock farmers.
Those include: removing the negative margin viability test; increasing negative margin coverage from 60 per cent to 70 per cent; relaxing program caps; using farmers’ production costs to help to calculate financial margins.
Ministers responded cautiously to those demands following their Feb. 5 meeting in Toronto.
“We’re very clear that we’re committed to improving programs for farmers,” said Stan Struthers, Manitoba agriculture minister, from the airport before catching a flight out of the country.
“We want to make these programs work for farmers.”
But Pellerin expressed frustration at the slow progress of an ongoing strategic review of agricultural business risk management programs (BRMs).
“Not very much,” was his response when asked if the review was further along after the meeting.
A new round of BRM consultations with farmers and agricultural organizations, called for by ministers, could slow the process even more.
Privately, government officials doubted a final program review will be ready in time for the ministers’ next meeting in Saskatoon July 6-8.
But Pellerin said short-term changes in time for spring seeding are still possible.
He said CFA particularly wants to see a cost-of-production element in calculating farmers’ historical margins.
Cost-of-production coverage ranks high among farmers’ BRM preferences, as revealed in a recent survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The CFIB found 38 per cent of its agribusiness members believe a government BRM should include COP coverage. Forty-four per cent want whole farm disaster protection, while 39 per cent cited whole farm income stabilization as a need. Thirty-three per cent called for production insurance for all commodities.
(With files from Allan Dawson) [email protected]