The cat is out of the bag and halfway to Saskatoon, yet Manitoba remains the only western province not to have announced a livestock price insurance program.
Last November, the Manitoba government outlined its intent to establish such a program in the speech from the throne, and since then Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (MAFRD) officials have been attending meetings with beef producers to discuss the proposed program. But there has been no official confirmation.
The federal government announced a new Western Livestock Price Insurance Program last Friday during a press conference in Camrose, Alberta, with representatives from Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia participating.
Manitoba was absent.
“Manitoba is not able to discuss the province’s participation at this time to respect the rules of the Election Financing Act,” said a spokeswoman for the Agriculture Department. Other sources within MAFRD have indicated a formal announcement regarding the program will take place shortly after this week’s provincial byelections.
The province’s absence hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the Manitoba Beef Producers (MBP), which issued a statement shortly after the announcement in Alberta
The association acknowledged that the announcement “did not explicitly include Manitoba… due to the byelections in Morris and Arthur-Virden,” but added that the association is confident that beef producers in Manitoba will have the same access to the program.
“This new risk management tool will be a critical component to help the industry develop the confidence we need to rebuild Manitoba’s beef herd and be competitive on the landscape with other sectors,” said MBP president, Trevor Atchison. “This could fundamentally change beef production in this province.”
Based on an existing livestock insurance program in Alberta, that province’s Agriculture Financial Services Corporation will be the central administrative centre for the program, according to Agriculture Canada. The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation will be the lead service delivery agent for the program.
Products will include insurance for both pork and beef producers, encompassing fed cattle, feeder cattle and cow-calf operations.
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Details of the program will be sent to producers this March, but policies will provide an insurable floor price on cattle, allowing producers to manage risk and reduce price volatility.
Atchison said it is something beef producers have been asking for, for several years.
“Beef producers require strong, bankable, risk-mitigation tools,” he said, adding price insurance will build on new forage insurance programs announced last fall.
He encouraged any beef producers interested in learning more about the programs to attend the association’s annual general meeting in February.