The Keystone Agricultural Producers (KAP) is seeking changes to crop insurance rules to give farmers more flexibility in choosing their excess moisture deductibles.
Farmers attending KAP’s general council meeting said they want the option of buying down their excess moisture deductibles in five per cent increments instead of having to buy it down to zero.
Every year a farmer has an EMI claim, the deductible increases.
“We have producers just in District 7 hitting the 20 per cent (deductible) range,” Lenore farmer Keith Gardner told KAP’s General Council meeting here April 14. “It would cost them something like $9 an acre to buy it down. It’s very prohibitive.”
Earlier in the meeting Paul Bonnet, Manitoba Agricultural Services (MASC) vice-president of research and program said the corporation is looking into it.
KAP also wants post-harvest deductibles removed, which now apply to certain crops that are written off in the fall before harvest.
The deductible had been in place for potatoes and vegetable crops, and extended to corn and soybeans in 2010. If a corn crop is written off in the fall before it was harvested farmers only get 85 per cent of their insurance coverage.
When the change was announced David Van Deynze, MASC’s manager of claim services, said it reflects the fact that farmers will save on harvesting costs. It would also save the program money and reduce premiums for farmers.
Last week Bonnet told KAP the change was made for two reasons. One was so farmers who don’t harvest a crop aren’t financially better off than those who do. Harvesting corn is expensive and almost always includes drying the crop.
“The other reason was frankly a budget reduction initiative,” Bonnet said. “Every year the government’s Treasury Board gives us some targets we have to meet. In that year we had to cut something in the program in order to meet our budget target.
“It wasn’t a palatable decision, but it was one the board decided was the least objectionable of the ones we have available.”
Starbuck-area farmer Reg Dyck told Bonnet crop insurance should be based on need and be actuarially sound.
“When coverage is cut… because of budgetary concerns that’s a concern to us as producers…,” Dyck said.
Bonnet replied it’s a concern to MASC too.
“There weren’t a lot of staff that liked that decision and a lot of board members didn’t like it at all,” Bonnet said. “It was a tough decision and it had to be made.”
Later when debating the crop insurance resolution Dyck said MASC’s decision to change coverage based on budgetary concerns is a slippery slope that doesn’t bode well for farmers. [email protected]