Tuesday, October 7, 2014

B.C. nixes poultry insurance

The British Columbia government’s Farm Industry Review Board has nixed plans by the poultry marketing boards to join a national insurance program for disease-related losses.

The government reasons for refusing permission to join include the mandatory provisions that force all holders of poultry quota to join.

The reciprocal insurance program was developed with a push from Deborah Whale of Alma, Ont., now vice chairman of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

She pioneered the effort to insure farmers after it became clear that governments would be unlikely to help a lot of farmers who could be bankrupted by an outbreak of a contagious foreign disease, such as high-pathogenic strains of avian influenza, foot and mouth disease or African Swine Fever.

While there is direct federal government assistance for farms directly hit by these named foreign animal diseases, there is nothing for nearby farmers caught in a quarantine zone and unable to move anything in or out.

Nor is there compensation for loss of export markets, as happened to beef farmers when Canada confirmed its first case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or mad cow’s disease.

The B.C. Farm Industry Review Board did say it would be prudent risk-management strategy for farmers to buy insurance.

The leaders of the marketing boards say the insurance-industry partners involved in the program require all producers to be included to make the program viable.

Maybe there's a reason why some Canadians refer to B.C. as la-la land.