Friday, September 24, 2021

Originator of farm income stabilization has died

Bob Hopley, a farmer from Oak River, Man., and the brains behind the creation of the Net Income Stabilization Account (NISA), which evolved into today’s AgriInvest risk management program, has died. He was 87.

“Bob had a mind second to none in terms of figuring things out,” his longtime friend and veteran farm policy wonk Owen McAuley said in an interview with Manitoba Cooperator newspaper.

Hopley was a visionary, McAuley told mourners at Hopley’s funeral.

“It came out of the mind of an Oak River farmer from his kitchen table,” McAuley said. “Think about that for a minute. It’s amazing. He convinced the whole country that this is the right process.”

Coming up with NISA — a program that encouraged farmers, through government incentives, to save money during good times for a rainy day — and his many other accomplishments saw Hopley inducted into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame in 2015.

“Bob originated the concept of the National Income Stabilization Account (NISA),” Hopley’s Hall of Fame inscription read.

 “He was asked to chair a task force on his stabilization plan and move it forward to both levels of government, national farm organizations and key stakeholders. NISA became the centrepiece of Canadian agricultural stabilization policy and was supported by all 10 provinces. 

By 2004 more than $3.4 billion had been placed in NISA accounts by Canadian farmers and both levels of government. This was the ultimate validation of Bob’s program by the Canadian farming community. 

The NISA program has evolved over the years, but Bob’s concept is still embedded within Canada’s National Agricultural Policy framework. The AgriInvest program is NISA’s current reincarnation.

“His contributions have had, and will continue to have, significant beneficial impacts on farm families across Canada.”