Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Hon. Jim Carr at a meeting with Prairie grain farmers in Saskatoon, SK, March 2019. (Photo submitted)

Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Hon. Jim Carr at a meeting with Prairie grain farmers in Saskatoon, SK, March 2019. (Photo submitted)

Stepping up to help prairie farmers

Opinion

Farmers face many risks these days — the impacts of a global pandemic on the supply chain, the trend towards protectionism in trade, and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events, to name a few. Solutions on how to deal with those risks vary considerably, depending on who you ask.

As the Prime Minister’s special representative to the prairies, I know there is one solution that farmers overwhelmingly agree on: improving the Business Risk Management programs. These BRM programs are a farmer’s financial safety net and, overall, they currently support Canadian farmers to the tune of about $1.6 billion in an average year.

Agriculture is a shared jurisdiction in Canada. For the last 20 years, federal governments of all stripes have shared the cost of the BRM programs with provinces and territories, with the feds paying 60% and provinces paying 40 per cent.

Foremost among these programs is the insurance-style program, AgriStability, which essentially gives payments to a farmer if their incomes drop significantly.

Since the program was cut by the Conservative government in 2013, it no longer pays out enough, or with enough predictability, for farmers to see it as worthwhile.

The fact that less than 30 per cent of eligible farmers enroll for the program, clearly shows that immediate improvements are needed.

Last Friday, my colleague Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, shared our government’s proposal to make immediate improvements to the AgriStability program, so that it pays out 50% more to farmers.

This will be achieved by removing something called the “reference margin limit”, which, as its name implies, limits the amount a farmer could be paid from AgriStability if they experience a significant decline.

Bill Campbell, president of the Manitoba farmer group Keystone Agricultural Producers, calls the reference margin limit the “sticking point” that hampers farmers when they do their annual paperwork and need the help of the program to stabilize their farms.

On top of removing the reference margin limit, our Government wants to increase the amount the programs pay out to farmers through its “compensation rate,” raising it from 70% to 80%. This increase, which has been a key request from producer groups, will mean the support will go to the farmers who need it most.

Taken together, these changes should help reverse the trend of low farmer enrollment, and mean farmers might start to see the benefit of participating in this vital program once again.

I won’t beat around the bush. These changes simply can’t happen unless we can get the elected officials at the provincial level onboard with their fair 40% share.

Throughout COVID-19, farmers and everyone in the supply chain has stepped up to feed Canadians. It has been Team Canada effort. In order to make these changes that farmers have been calling for, let’s bring that same spirit of cooperation and action to help our farmers better manage the risks they face.

– Hon. Jim Carr, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Center, and Prime Minister Trudeau’s special representative to the prairies

Opinion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

MLA Jackie Lovely
MLA Jackie Lovely: Moving back to Step 1 a ‘profound disappointment’

Camrose MLA joins ranks of UCP members calling out the decision

Supporters gather outside GraceLife Church near Edmonton, Alta., on Sunday, April 11, 2021. The church has been fenced off by police and Alberta Health Services in violation of COVID-19 rules. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

GraceLife Church and its pastor, are charged for holding services that break health restrictions

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

File photo
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
O’Toole to vote against Conservative MP’s private bill on ‘sex-selective abortion’

Erin O’Toole said he supports a woman’s right to choose and will personally vote against the private member’s bill

Madelyn Boyko poses along with a number of the bath bombs she makes with her mom, Jessica Boyko. Madelyn says she enjoys making the bath bombs with her mom as it is a special time for just the two of them. (Photo Submitted)
5-year-old Sylvan Lake girl selling bath bombs in support of younger brother

Madelyn Boyko is selling bath bombs for CdLS research in honour of her younger brother

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

A volunteer disinfects a historical Mohabat Khan mosque ahead of the upcoming Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

Many members of the association are trying to find ways ‘to help people stay connected to one another’

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Stettler’s own Renegade Station is kicking off the spring season with a brand new single - to be released April 9th. (Photo submitted)
A brand new single is on the way from Stettler-based band Renegade Station

Free Free Free hits all streaming platforms on April 9th

Most Read