Prairie Leaders Urge Support for Farmers Through AgriStability

·3 min read

AgriStability is one of the business risk management programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. It is a margin-based program designed to help producers manage large income declines. Each year, you must enroll in the program, pay your fee and submit a form by the applicable deadlines.

AgriStability is a margin-based program that provides income support when a producer experiences larger income losses. Payments are based on a decline in your farm's current-year margin compared to an average historical margin.

NDP Official Opposition leaders of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba joined together to urge their respective provincial governments to go back to the table with the federal government and sign the full AgriStability proposal before the June 30 deadline for farmers and producers to enroll in the program.

“The fact is that there is an urgency to act now, while we have a federal government that is at the table ready to make real reforms,” said Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili. “That has not always been the case. This is a significant opportunity to strengthen and sustain the economic recovery on the prairies.”

On March 25, the prairie provinces came to a partial agreement with the federal government to make changes to AgriStability. The reference margin limit was removed; however, Conservative Premiers in all three provinces refused to invest the money necessary to change the compensation rate from 70 to 80 percent.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau is providing the prairie provinces with an opportunity to still agree to the full proposal.

Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have all signed on, but the agreement requires two-thirds of provinces to go forward - and the governments of the prairie provinces have so far refused to do so.

In Saskatchewan, farm and producer groups have pointed to the increased costs and risks for their members since the program was cut in 2013.

In Alberta, 11 agricultural organizations from across the sector released a joint statement calling on the UCP government to agree to the full federal proposal.

“Agricultural producers made their voices clear that they do not want to settle for half of this proposal,” said Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “Agriculture is key to driving economic recovery on the Prairies. The Prairie provincial governments need to stop using farmers as bargaining chips and instead invest what is needed to complete this deal.”

In Manitoba, the PC government has refused to agree to federal program enhancements, despite clear support from Manitoba producers. The Keystone Agriculture Producers called the government’s response “discouraging and disappointing”, and urged the province to sign on immediately.

"After everything prairie producers have been through in recent years, the last thing they need is conservative leadership that puts partisan fights ahead of their livelihoods," said Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew. "It's time to put away the egos and get this deal done for Prairie producers and the Canadian families that rely on them."

Ralph Goodale, Former MP for Regina-Wascana, said in a January press release that “Farm organizations are calling for this damage to be repaired. Most recently, that message came loud and clear from the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS), the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Cattlemen’s Association, the Pork Council and the Grain Growers. They all support improvements proposed by federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau that would boost AgriStability payouts to farmers by about 50%. The biggest benefits would flow into Saskatchewan.”

In an April 7th release, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) mentioned they are “disappointed that the province was not able to fully fund changes to the AgriStability program that would provide higher margin coverage to AgriStability participants. We remain hopeful that funding contribution will be re-evaluated as our provincial economy improves.”

Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal