Home Business & Economy Food & Agriculture MacGregor: agriculture income protection program should waive fee

MacGregor: agriculture income protection program should waive fee

AgriStability deadline extended to June 30, 2023

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 GROWING NATURAL FOOD IN URBAN SPACES

Tuesday March 14, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends | FOOD SECURITY ARCHIVE


B.C. farmers and producers can still participate in AgriStability for the 2022 farming year and have until June 30, 2023, to pay their fees and secure coverage under the program.

The AgriStability is a federal-provincial-territorial program that provides support to growers with large financial declines caused by production losses, disease outbreak and increased costs or declining market conditions.

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Program costs are shared 60% by Canada and 40% by British Columbia. | See: Canadian Agriculture Partnership

Late participation:

“Allowing late participation in AgriStability will help more farmers manage the impacts of the many challenges they face on their farms,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “I encourage eligible farmers to take advantage of the support available to improve their situation and get back to what they do best – producing high-quality foods.”

Any program payments are reduced by 20% for late participants.

A severe avian influenza outbreak affected many Fraser Valley poultry producers in 2022. Some B.C. crop producers have also been dealing with production losses and revenue declines due to extreme weather and abnormally cold temperatures. These challenging conditions were all factors in the decision to enable late participation in AgriStability for 2022.

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Agriculture and Food Minister Pam Alexis during March 7, 2023 food security funding announcement: “It’s absolutely critical that we support them (farmers) which supports food security”.

“By allowing late participation in AgriStability, we will be able to offer financial support to more farmers and producers who need assistance due to factors, such as weather and disease, that were out of their control,” said Pam Alexis, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture and Food.

“We recognize the challenges our agricultural community have faced over the past year, and we encourage anyone who is eligible to retroactively sign up, so they can improve their financial situation for the coming year, while continuing to produce the food and food products we all appreciate and rely on,” said Alexis in a news release today.

Fee should be waived says MP:

Meanwhile, local MP Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) feels that recommendations from the federal committee on agriculture have not been fully heeded.

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Alistair MacGregor, MP (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) addressing the House of Commons [File: Feb 3, 2023]

“At the start of the pandemic, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food had just begun a study, based on a motion I moved at the beginning of the 43rd Parliament, looking into the suite of Business Risk Management Programs (BRMs) offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to aid farmers and producers in times of income and production losses,” said MacGregor in a statement to Island Social Trends today.

“Often, testimony we heard from farmers and producers included reference to the inadequacy of the BRMs in dealing with the challenges of the pandemic. But even before the pandemic struck, the underlying message from many producers was that BRMs have not been keeping pace with the challenges posed by 21st century farming. Most notably, there was a consistent and resounding call for an overhaul of the AgriStability program,” said MacGregor who himself is a farmer on Vancouver Island.

“While I am pleased to see the deadline for 2022 AgriStability applications extended to the end of June, our committee made several recommendations to the Government of Canada in our final report where they have still fallen short, including waiving the application fee – a recommendation that was merely ‘acknowledged’ rather than ‘supported’ by the federal government in its response to the report, as well as removing the reference margin limit, which they failed to provide comment on.”

Removal of the reference margin:

According to the Agricultural Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), removal of the reference margin limit from AgriStability for 2021 and 2022 “will have a significant impact for many producers and is retroactive to the 2020 program year”.

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Before this change, triggering a payout required a significant drop in a producer’s margin; however, with the removal of the reference margin limit, a 30 per cent drop in the current year may trigger a payout. Sectors most likely to benefit from the removal of limiting include livestock producers who grow their own feed, organic and commercial crop and forage producers, members of the apiary industry and mixed farmers. 

Beginning in 2020, producers are no longer penalized for proactively managing their price risk by using private insurance. Private insurance payments are not included in the current year, but are included in the farm’s history, raising the coverage level. 

About AgriStability:

AgriStability offers personalized coverage for each farm based on income tax and production information. AgriStability is a whole-farm, low-cost business risk-management program that helps farm operations manage large declines in net farming income.

For the past three years, AgriStability participation has been consistent in B.C., with approximately 2,100 farmers enrolled in the program for 2022, 2021 and 2020. The program has been around since 2007.

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership Agreement allows Canada and British Columbia to agree to late participation for AgriStability. The late participation allows B.C. farmers and producers to participate in the 2022 program as long as they pay their program fees by June 30, 2023.

For assistance with enrolment, contact BC AgriStability Administration at 1 877 343-2767 or email to AgriStability.

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===== RELATED:

Agriculture income protection program deadline extended (Mar 14, 2023)

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===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:

Island Social Trends is a professional news service that covers news of the west shore of Greater Victoria on south Vancouver Island, as well as BC-wide and national issues. Editor and publisher: Mary P Brooke.

Island Social Trends launched entirely online at islandsocialtrends.ca in mid-2020, in the footstep of its predecessor print publications MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013) and West Shore Voice News (2014-2020).