Application forms for the aid promised by federal and provincial ministers earlier this month are in the mail and farmers can expect payments in late August or early September, officials say.
Farmers have until Aug. 3 to apply for the 2010 Canada-Manitoba Excess Moisture Assistance Program (CMEMAP), which pays $30 for each acre of annual crop destroyed or unseeded due to excess moisture.
There is a deductible however, a minimum of 25 acres or five per cent of a farmer’s total annual crop acreage, whichever is higher, and it could increase if applications exceed the $60 million allocated to Manitoba from the $450 million federal-provincial program, said David Koroscil, the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) manager of insurance projects and sales.
DEDUCTIBLE COULD INCREASE
As its stands now, a farmer with 1,000 acres of annual cropland has a 50-acre deductible. If that farmer lost 51 acres due to excess moisture, he or she would be compensated for one acre and receive $30.
“Part of the reasoning for this is it’s an AgriRecovery program to help producers in times of a disaster,” Koroscil said. “In a normal growing season producers will lose some acres due to drown out and other conditions.
“It’s for more the catastrophic levels of loss that is the basis for the deductible.”
Aid is available on acres intended to be seeded to an annual crop but weren’t because it was too wet and annual crops destroyed by flooding. That means only fields or section of fields beyond harvesting are eligible.
“Technically it will be spot loss (coverage),” Koroscil said. “If you have two or three spots throughout the field that is damaged, it’s the total acres that are drowned out (that are covered).
“The point we want to make clear with producers is we’re not paying for general yield reductions because there will be cases where they have lost significant yield potential but they’re still fully intent on harvesting the acreage.”
Established hay land, forage, pasture, shrub, wooded and perennial crop acres are ineligible.
Farmers who aren’t covered by crop insurance can download the application form at: (http://www.mmpp.com/masc.nsf/program_excess_ moisture_assistance. html) or pick one up at a crop insurance office.
It’s expected nearly 2,500 farmers with approximately two million acres are eligible for a CMEMAP payment, including around 700,000 unseeded annual crop acres.
The Manitoba Cattle Producers Association (MCPA) is disappointed losses to forage and pasture are not covered under CMEMAP.
“We applaud the announcement of this relief package but we look forward to the same kind of help for our cattle guys,” MCPA District 13 director, Kim Crandall said in a news release.
Agriculture Minister Stan Struthers says Mani toba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives is watching the cattle feed and pasture situation closely.
Keystone Agriculture Producers (KAP) president Ian Wishart says aid for cattle producers needs to be focused.
“We want more money to help with the feed shortage but we need to identify it,” Wishart said. “It has to be more targeted because this is a really spotty type of disaster. There’s a big chunk of the Interlake and Westlake that is negatively impacted for livestock feed, but not everybody in every region is.”
KAP also wants the Manitoba government to announce a feed freight assistance program to help move hay from surplus areas to where it’s short.
Speaking to reporters last week Struthers wouldn’t commit to that.
“We have to continue to monitor what’s going on… and then make some decisions in a number of weeks down the road,” he said.
While some farmers complain $30 an acre is inadequate, Wishart stressed for most farmers it’s in addition to the $50 an acre (less the deductible) they will get on unseeded acres, plus any crop insurance payments they might get.
Some farmers are annoyed MASC is deducting their crop insurance premiums from their Excess Moisture Insurance payouts. But Koroscil said that’s standard practice. The premiums are due at the end of June, but farmers have until the end of October, interest-free, to pay.
Meanwhile, the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association (WCWGA) wants changes to the crop insurance program so future ad hoc aid is unnecessary.
“Farmers are proud of what we do and most don’t want to be seen going cap in hand to governments,” WCWGA president Kevin Bender said in a news release. “We would rather manage our own production and financial risks through improved crop insurance programs and the opportunity to retain more of our income during profitable years.”
[email protected]with files from Ron Friesen