AgriStability should not be replaced

Farmers hoping to replace AgriStability in the next five-year federal-provincial-territorial partnership will likely be disappointed.

Canada’s agriculture ministers agreed on a set of principles to guide the next policy framework at their November 8-10 meeting in Guelph.

However, replacing AgriStability with a margin-based program is not one of them. Instead, all changes will be made to the existing program.

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit said there was not yet enough information available on how a program like this works and not enough time to put it in place. .

“In the time frame, we wouldn’t have been able to do it to implement it in 2023,” he said in an interview. “We don’t know the final numbers on how you would. “

There are questions as to whether this would be a farm-wide program and what the premiums would be, he said.

The agreement that takes effect on April 1, 2023 is due to be signed by July 2022, he said. In practice, this means that officials should have a replacement ready to leave by May at the latest.

Prairie agriculture ministers praised the margin-based safety net program at last year’s meeting as dissatisfaction with AgriStability boiled over.

Since then, the provinces have agreed to remove the benchmark margin limit to make it more responsive. Private insurance also no longer counts as income against program claims.

“What we’re looking for, (are there) other things in the program settings that could be improved?” »Says Marie.

Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler has agreed that further changes are not excluded.

“The feeling I had, and I think it was fairly unanimous, is that AgriStability should stay, but not necessarily in its current form,” he said. “How can we adjust it to make it more predictable, more sustainable, more reliable, more resilient so that (farmers) have confidence for the future?

“We talked about all of these things, but we didn’t land the plane. We are getting closer for sure.

The Guelph statement released after the meeting focused on sustainable agriculture, taking into account environmental, social and economic considerations.

It identifies five priority areas for the next framework: climate change and the environment; science, research and innovation; market development and trade; strengthen the capacity and growth of the sector; and resilience and public confidence.

Federal Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau noted that ministers agreed on a vision for the framework whereby Canada would be recognized as a world leader in sustainable agriculture “and move forward to 2028 from a solid base of regional strengths and diversity, as well as strong leadership from the provinces and territories, to meet the challenge of climate change, expand new markets and businesses while meeting consumer expectations, and nurture Canadians and a growing world population.

Bibeau said improving ERM programs is always on the agenda to ensure the economic sustainability of the sector.

“We are also open to consider another approach such as more general insurance programs, but the priority for the coming months will be to improve the current range of programs,” she said at a conference. Press.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture was among the farm organizations that met with ministers at the meeting.

CFA said there was a strong consensus on the importance of programming for ecological goods and services, collaboration and science to achieve environmental goals, triple bottom line sustainability and strong environmental management programs. business risks.

“We all agreed that a strong and competitive agricultural sector is important, and that being proactive in tackling climate change will be a key aspect of it,” said President Mary Robinson.

To this end, the FCA has stressed the need for increased collaboration between the federal government departments of Environment and Agriculture in the future.

Douglas Hedley, a former assistant federal deputy minister responsible for farm finance programs, told a webinar by the Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute on November 15 that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter from Bibeau should include this guy directive.

He said that of the priorities listed in the Guelph Declaration, only one – ERM programs – falls solely within the purview of agriculture; all the others overlap or fall under the portfolios of other ministers.

The new mandate letters from the cabinet appointed at the end of October had not yet been published.

Eichler added that the federal government’s climate agenda does not necessarily meet the approval of Manitobans or Western Canadians and Western ministers have stood firm in demanding that farmers be recognized for what they already have. does while recognizing that there is still work to be done. Competitiveness was a theme throughout the meeting.

Ontario Minister Lisa Thompson also said that each province wants to ensure that programs are flexible and responsive to the realities of each province.

Ministers are expected to meet at least once before their next annual meeting scheduled for July in Saskatoon during Ag in Motion.

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