About 1.74 million acres or nearly two per cent of Manitoba cropland was either too wet to seed this spring or the seeded crops drowned, the Manitoba Agr icultural Services Corporation says.
The losses prompted $40.5 million in payments to farmers under the Canada-Manitoba Excess Moisture Assistance Program (CMEMAP).
“We had applications from all areas of the province,” David Van Deynze, the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) manager of claim services, said in an interview Nov. 9. “There was trouble in lots of spots. Every part of the province had some applications.”
MASC administered the program funded 60 per cent by Ottawa and 40 per cent by the province.
The program, which was also offered in Alberta and Saskatchewan, had a $450-million budget, including $65 million for Manitoba.
Farm groups called for assistance after monsoon-type rains swamped fields this spring and early summer across much of the West. Some areas received double the normal amount of precipitation in May and June, setting new records.
In Manitoba, eligible farmers received $30 an acre, less a deductible of a minimum of 25 acres or five per cent of a farmer’s total annual crop acreage under CMEMAP. The deductible resulted in farmers getting payments on roughly 1.35 million acres.
Close to 9,000 farmers have crop insurance in Manitoba. CMEMAP applications in this province totalled 6,153 – 5,185 of them from farmers with crop insurance and 968 from those without it.
Of the affected 1.74 million acres covered by CMEMAP, 738,964 were eligible for a $50-an-acre payment (less deductible) under Excess Moisture Insurance, while the remaining 1,003,000 acres consisted of seeded crops destroyed by excessive moisture, Van Deynze said.
CMEMAP ran smoothly for the most part, according to Van Deynze. The Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) complained about the deductible, but Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers argued it was justified to protect the integrity of crop insurance.
“I don’t want to make a decision that provides a disincentive for farmers next year to participate in crop insurance,” he said in an interview in July.
KAP also protested when it learned CMEMAP acres were not covered by MASC’s hail insurance. MASC said it can’t insure a crop that doesn’t exist. KAP said hail premiums on those acres should be refunded.
MASC agreed but the refund will be pro-rated reflecting the coverage farmers had until the day they could apply for CMEMAP payments.
About 1,400 farmers will see $669,000 returned.
The Manitoba Beef Producers has been lobbying for similar assistance for livestock producers struggling with flooded pastures and hayfields.
Last month, Struthers said Manitoba had approved its share in an aid program weeks ago and was waiting for the federal government to do the same.
MASC won’t know until next month how much it will pay out in total crop insurance claims on the 2010 crop for losses due to all perils, including too much rain. The deadline to file claims is Nov. 30.
“We’re anticipating a busy year, there’s no doubt about that. It’s going to be an average or above-average year as far as claims go. That’s what we’re predicting at this point.”
Farmers’ crop insurance payouts are triggered when production falls below a percentage of long-term average yields.
In some areas, the crop farmers did harvest yielded well. For some that will offset losses, preventing a claim.
“It just depends on how many acres you were able to harvest,” Van Deynze said. “If half your crop was destroyed you can have the best crop you’ve ever had on what wasn’t destroyed and it still doesn’t make up for it.”
Excess moisture insurance claims on almost 739,000 acres of unseeded land this year is second only to the record 1.4 million acres too wet to seed in 2005. That year, $58.3 million was paid out under excess moisture insurance.
It was a bad year all round with MASC paying out a record $295.2 million in crop insurance claims to insured Manitoba farmers. [email protected]
– DAVID VAN DEYNZE