Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

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Mixed reviews for Canada’s business risk management programs


January 21, 2020
By Fruit and Vegetable

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Federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) agricultural ministers met in Ottawa in December to discuss how to improve producer support through updating business risk management programs such as Agristability.

Their second meeting in 2019 follows a particularly difficult year for many producers. In 2019, Canadian producers faced trade issues with China, a CN rail strike, adverse weather conditions, among others events. The FPT ministers recognize that the risks farmers face have changed. “We are helping address these risks by making progress on our programs, including targeted improvements to AgriStability,” noted Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal agricultural minister.

However, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) expressed disappointment with “the lack of clear progress towards meaningful reform of the Business Risk Management (BRM) suite, and [frustration] with the lack of urgency in responding to the immediate challenges confronting Canadian producers.”

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CFA explains that BRM programs have been in review for nearly three years without meaningful progress or short-term solutions while long-term reforms are created. The CFA states that this “leaves farmers without much-needed relief at this critical time, nor any certainty that assistance is on the way.”

FPT ministers will reconvene in July 2020 in Guelph, Ont., for their annual conference, at which time they will review assessment reports on BRM programs to be submitted in April, among other things.

CFA president Mary Robinson is disappointed in the delay. “Farmers from across all regions of Canada have clearly identified that a return to AgriStability coverage at 85 per cent without a reference margin limit presents a simple, interim solution that can be implemented immediately,” she says.

Robinson continued, “The fact that the ministers were unable to commit to truly meaningful program reforms, while pushing this issue further down the road through further program reviews, suggests a lack of urgency and a continued disconnect between FPT governments and the realities facing farmers.”