The Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC) has given its website a fresh look and promoted some veteran employees to replace retiring colleagues.
The agency, which administers crop insurance and provincially backed farm lending in Manitoba, updated its website in mid-December.
“We wanted to make it mobile friendly and easier for farmers to find information,” David Van Deynze, MASC’s vice-president of insurance, said in an interview Dec. 21.
“Producers can submit their seeded acreage reports in the spring and their harvested production reports in the fall. They can also report their old grain online. They can track claims once they log into the system… if a cheque has been cut — those type of things. We are trying to do more and more online. You can apply for hail insurance online as well.”
Information farmers submit online means an MASC employee doesn’t have to enter it.
“We gain some efficiencies and we hope our clients do as well,” Van Deynze said. “Some just prefer to use a computer to do these things and it allows them to work on it any time they want to. We try to develop the software so it is intuitive enough and it asks the questions that need to be asked.
“We review them all to some extent and the computer does some validation to make sure the numbers aren’t wonky.”
The refreshed website still includes access to the same information as before on crop insurance coverage and premiums and lending programs.
It also includes tools, including Management Plus, a search tool that allows users to break out crop yields by variety and by municipality or risk area as well as seeded acres going back to 1993.
Van Deynze, who was MASC’s manager of claim services, was promoted operations Oct. 20, 2016, but had been acting vice-president since Craig Thomson retired from the position in March 2016.
David Koroscil, who was manager of insurance projects and sales, replaces Van Deynze.
And Koroscil’s old position is now held by Maurice Gaultier who had been an MASC sales manager.
After Paul Bonnet, vice-president of research and program development retired, Jared Munro, MASC’s manager of program development was promoted to the position.
Fern Comte is now MASC’s chief financial officer, replacing Jim Lewis after he retired last year.
The deadline for farmers to submit their Harvested Production Reports to MASC was Nov. 30, 2016. Most of the data in those reports had been entered by Dec. 21, but the final tally on claims and payouts was not available at press time. Van Deynze said most outstanding claims should be paid early this year.
What is known is MASC received a record 3,747 (payable) hail claims in 2016. Almost $43.6 million was paid to cover damaged and destroyed crops. (In season MASC reports the total hail claims it receives. Payable hail claims refers to those that triggered a payment.)
The previous record was set in 2015 with 2,783 (payable) hail claims and $31.1 million in claim payments, Koroscil said. The five-year average is about 2,100 claims, he said.