Crop insurance will be increasingly important to Manitoba farmers because of recent cuts to Agri-Stability and AgriInvest, says Keystone Agricultural Producers vice-president Dan Mazier.
The Manitoba government needs to understand that, he said at KAP’s General Council meeting last month. Delegates passed a resolution calling for a review of crop insurance.
While most Manitoba farmers are happy with crop insurance, there are individual concerns that could by addressed by a review by the province in conjunction with KAP and grain commodity groups, said Keith Gardner of Lenore, who moved the resolution.
It’s been a decade since the last review, and the program could use some tweaking, Gardner said.
“I guess we can be thankful they didn’t cut production insurance because crop insurance in Manitoba is a key part of our business risk strategy and it will continue to be,” said KAP president Doug Chorney.
“So we’re pushing to enhance crop insurance and deal with some of the shortcomings we hear from membership on programs that aren’t working for them.”
Some of those shortcomings include claim deductibles on potatoes, corn and soybeans.
Delegates passed two other crop insurance resolutions. One calls on KAP to review the Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation’s (MASC) hail insurance appeal process and work with it to set up an independent review body. The other requested KAP to lobby MASC to get claims adjusted sooner, bringing in adjusters from other areas if necessary.
Dauphin farmer Ernie Sirksi said while he didn’t oppose the motion, he wanted to compliment crop insurance for the speedy service he’d received. One morning during the May long weekend Sirski said he decided to reseed a quarter section of canola. MASC had an adjuster in the field by noon the same day.
“When an organization does something right it should be complimented,” he said.
Starbuck farmer and resolution mover Doug Livingston said it appeared problems with delays might be worse in his area.
Lowe Farm producer and MASC director Butch Harder said when it comes to hail claims the longer it takes for an adjuster to appraise it the better it is for farmers usually.
“Not that I play the system,” he said sparking laughter among delegates.
Fisher Branch farmer Paul Gregory said MASC needs more directors like Harder.
“I’ve been to crop insurance and there are too many non-practising farmers there,” Gregory said. “We do need people who are outspoken like Butch.”
Delegates also passed a resolution calling on KAP to continue to complain to the federal and provincial governments about a “lack of meaningful consultation” prior to the cuts to AgriStability and AgriInvest.
Machinery, land and rent costs are rising quickly — but today’s high grain prices are unlikely to continue, said Starbuck farmer Ed Rempel. While most farmers don’t need farm support programs now, they likely will in the future, he said.
Even though the federal-provincial business risk management programs will be cut by $430 million a year, only an extra $70 million to $80 million will be transferred to research and innovation, Chorney noted. And some of that innovation money goes to industry, not farmers, he added.
Canadian farmers need access to “top drawer” economists, who can demonstrate how important properly funded safety net programs are to Canadian agriculture, Gregory said. Farmers weren’t able to counter economists from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, who argued Canada should cut its support for farmers.
Part of the problem is that most federal civil servants who understood agriculture have retired, Chorney said.