Monday, January 25, 2021

Manitoba frustrates farmers who favour AgriStability reforms

Manitoba Agriculture Minister Blaine Pederson has not changed his position opposing a reform package for AgriStability, even though he has been sent a letter from 20 of his province’s major farm organizations urging him to support the package.

That leaves Ontario farmers, who have urged quick approval of the package, waiting to see what will happen now to the federal-provincial-territorial agreement. 

Some of them have said they need the money as soon as possible and others, such as Grain Farmers of Ontario, have put a major effort into lobbying for the reforms.

One of the key changes is pushing the reference margin from 70 to 80 per cent; ut was 85 per cent until the politicians deemed that too expensive. In simplified terms, the margin is the gap between production costs and prices and the reference margin sets the limit on the gap.

Pederson has said he also wants the package does not address concerns raised by producers related to the predictability, competitiveness, and timeliness of the risk management program.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said after agriculture ministers met in late November that if they ratified quickly the changes would apply to 2020, as well this year and 2022.

“Although the proposed changes fall short of those that we have been requesting since the AgriStability program was decimated under Growing Forward 2, they are at least a step in the right direction, and we believe, represent an acceptable compromise,” Keystone Agriculture Producers said in a letter to Pederson.

 “Removing the reference margin limit . . . will make the program more effective for those who suffer a significant loss,” the KAP said.