The House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture has issued a report supporting farmers’ calls for a long list of improvements to existing business risk management programs and for some new ones.
The most expensive recommendation is to improve AgriStability. Beef Farmers of Ontario asked that the federal and provincial governments:
· Increase the AgriStability trigger from 70-85 per cent;
· Remove the Reference Margin Limit (RML) from AgriStability calculations, and
· Increase or remove the cap on individual operations.
“We are extremely pleased with this report and its recommendation that the Government of Canada immediately adjust the AgriStability program to cover losses below 85 per cent of the historical reference margin, and that additional changes be made to ensure the program is more effective, agile, timely and equitable,” Beef Farmers of Ontario said in a statement responding to the report.
Among other recommendations were ones to:
1. Improve and enhance AgriInvest to make it more effective, agile, timely and equitable, with the following measures:
a. Increasing the percentage of allowable net sales;
b. Increasing the matching government contributions; and
c. Increasing the maximum account balance limit.
2 Provide livestock insurance in all provinces and improve the ones already in place by escalating payouts in response to higher feed costs.
3, Extend production insurance for horticultural and other crops currently not covered by AgriInsurance; and
4. Work with provincial and territorial governments to modernize the rating methodology for AgriInsurance premiums.
5. Improve the advance payments programs by:
a. Increasing the interest-free portion;
b. Increasing the overall cash advance limit; and
c. Providing access to APP to all commodities.
6. Look at ways to facilitate access to Business Risk Management suite of programs to under-represented groups such as young farmers, women, Indigenous peoples, visible minorities and people with disabilities.
7. Simplify the Business Risk Management programs with the goal of making them more user friendly, timely, bankable and predictable while ensuring the programs meet the needs of farmers with diversified operations and to improve and enhance access for small businesses.
8. Conduct research into more and better risk management programs and provide education to farmers on business risk management.
9. Look into reducing AgriInsurance premiums by:
a. Waiving AgriStability fees;
b. Providing educational support to bolster a better understanding of Business Risk Management programs and best practices; and
c. Making the AgriInvest program more accessible to young farmers.
10. Provide protection for produce farmers by establishing a fund to cover losses in the event of buyer insolvency or bankruptcies.