Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

Ontario calls on federal government to enhance AgriStability programming

September 2, 2020  By Fruit and Vegetable

Ontario’s Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman joined the province’s agriculture leaders in urging the federal government to make immediate AgriStability program enhancements to protect farmers that have been financially impacted by market volatility and disruption resulting from COVID-19.

This united, public call for immediate improvements to the federal-provincial-territorial AgriStability program followed a meeting between Minister Hardeman and many of Ontario’s commodity organizations.

AgriStability is one business risk management program under the national suite of programs and aims to protect farmers from large income declines caused by production loss, increased costs or poor market conditions. It is delivered by AgriCorp.

“This has been a very difficult year, with farmers facing increased pressures due to COVID-19, and I stand with our farmers in calling for additional government support through the AgriStability program now,” said Hardeman. “We believe this is a national problem and it requires a national solution.”

Hardeman and agriculture industry leaders are seeking federal action to remove a component of AgriStability called the Reference Margin Limit and to lower the margin-loss threshold required to trigger payments under the program. These enhancements will provide more coverage against income declines, increasing farmers’ confidence to continue running their operations in a climate of uncertainty related to trade, markets and the ongoing COVID-19 emergency.

“Our government has committed to contributing our share of an increased national AgriStability program, but to date, the federal government has not,” said Hardeman. “We are calling on the Government of Canada to immediately make the program enhancements needed for AgriStability to help farmers manage the many risks that are very much outside of their control.”

“The Government of Ontario is once again standing up for its farmers and recognizing the important economic input that farming and agriculture provide to the province and country,” said Markus Haerle, chair of the Grain Farmers of Ontario. “Our federal government is long overdue to show the same support for our food system. These cost-shared programs are more important than ever, and we need them to be viable, well-funded and well-managed. The federal government has a vital role to play in this and it’s time they came to the table with us.”

“The delay in implementing these much needed enhancements to AgriStability, which have broad support across agriculture, is certainly disappointing,” said Rob Lipsett, president of the Beef Farmers of Ontario. “Ontario is standing up for its farmers, and we expect our federal government to do the same.”

The request for immediate changes to the AgriStability program follows the provincial government’s decision to expand the Risk Management Program (RMP) by $50 million in July, a year earlier than planned. This brings the total provincial investment into RMP to $150 million to help support farmers with unforeseen challenges such as fluctuating market prices, extreme weather events and disease.

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