I have watched closely the ongoing discussion regarding business risk management (BRM) occurring with and between the provinces and the federal minister of agriculture, Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau.
Farm organizations such as the Keystone Agricultural Producers, as well as other signatories, have long maintained that the current suite of BRMs, especially AgriStability, do not provide a suitable, bankable, backdrop for the risk associated with farming today.
The Conservative government under Stephen Harper made wholesale changes to AgriStability and AgriInvest that not only decreased coverage, but made the ability to qualify in the event of production challenges difficult, if not impossible.
The federal minister has proposed changes to the AgriStability program that begins to address some of the shortfalls addressed by policy and grower groups.
We have heard nothing but indecision on behalf of our provincial elected officials — both at the ministerial level and at the local level through our MLA, Brad Michaleski.
Minister Pedersen, you have often said that AgriStability is “broken,” and needs a complete overhaul to make it relevant and useful for farmers, and for governments.
Then Mr. Minister, I challenge you to find a solution. Please present us with your ideas as how to fix this. Do not rely on others, be it farm groups, individuals, or other levels of government to find your “fixes” for you. You have the resources, the people, and the knowledge to propose a workable solution. Let’s hear it!
It is time for our elected officials to embrace proposals as put forward by Minister Bibeau. No — they are not the total answer, but they lay the framework for the beginning of future discussion.
Farming is and will always be a risky proposition. Farmers and farm organizations accept that. What should be remembered is that the quality, availability and affordability of food in Canada should never be taken for granted.
Messrs. Pedersen and Michaleski, I urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to accept the proposals that Minister Bibeau has put forward, as a step towards ensuring the future of agriculture in Canada.