Everything was going fine for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) Share growing project near Morden, Manitoba in 2011. Then it hailed.
“We had a beautiful crop of wheat,” recalls Ben Friesen, who helps organize the Share project for CFGB, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working to end global hunger. “Then the hail came.”
Fortunately, the loss was covered in this case from Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC), a Manitoba government organization that provides insurance for farmers in the province.
“We got $20,000 for damaged crop, which we sent to the food grains bank,” says Friesen.
Something similar happened to the Central Alberta Canadian Foodgrains Bank project in Lacombe, Alberta in 2009.
“We had an excellent canola crop,” says treasurer Ken Ditzler of the project, which farmed 150 acres for CFGB. “We were on pace for 60 bushels an acre.”
The hail damage reduced the yield to 33 bushels. Like in Manitoba, the Lacombe project had free Straight Hail insurance. In this case, it was from the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), a Crown corporation of the Alberta government that administers insurance, lending and income stabilization programs to agricultural producers.
“It felt good knowing we could still send the full amount to the food grains bank,” says Ditzler, noting that the insurance made up the difference.
The Morden and Lacombe projects are two examples of how AFSC and MASC partner with CFGB to ensure that growing projects in the two provinces can keep insurance costs low, and be able to send a donation to CFGB in the event of hail.
“We really appreciate AFSC’s generous support,” says Terence Barg, who co-ordinates CFGB growing projects in the northern part of Alberta. “It’s great to have this additional bit of security in the event of bad weather.”
“For people who are donating their time and effort to grow a crop for the food grains bank, it can be very dispiriting to see it destroyed by hail,” adds Andre Visscher, who co-ordinates growing projects in the southern part of that province. “The free insurance m.eans they can still donate something even if the worst happens.”
“Farmers work hard to raise money for the food grains bank,” says Manitoba regional co-ordinator Harold Penner. “Support from MASC not only provides insurance, but makes the work of farmers on behalf of people who are hungry more secure, meaningful and enjoyable.”
Since 2001, AFSC has supported CFGB by providing the first $80 per acre of Straight Hail insurance free of charge on crops grown by community growing projects in Alberta. Last year this translated to AFSC donating over $24,000 worth of insurance premiums.
In Manitoba, MASC has been offering free hail insurance since 2009 for every project that carries crop insurance, up to a maximum of 160 acres. This year, it has increased the level of insurance coverage from $150 per acre to $175 per acre.
“We are indebted to corporations like AFSC and MASC in Alberta and Manitoba,” says CFGB executive director Jim Cornelius. “Their support ensures that we are able to help feed more people in the developing world who don’t have enough to eat.”