A comprehensive AgriRecovery response is also needed.
Ottawa–The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) and Grain Growers of Canada (GGC) are encouraged by measures the federal and provincial governments are taking to support farmers through the extreme weather of this summer.
The ministers have announced livestock tax deferral for prescribed drought areas, bilateral adjustments to AgriInsurance to make drought damaged crops available for feed, AgriRecovery assessments and invoking the late participation provision of AgriStability in drought-stricken provinces.
CFA President Mary Robinson said the ministers’ actions were important steps in what needs to be a comprehensive response to such a dire and widespread situation. “CFA is glad to see this kind of support offered, recognizing further steps are required to deliver a comprehensive AgriRecovery response and ensure these measures are appropriately targeted.
“We must also take this opportunity to once again urge provinces to adopt the federal proposal to increase the AgriStability compensation rate from 70 per cent to 80 per cent, to ensure farmers have adequate support in the face of such potentially catastrophic conditions,” she said.
“These are the exact situations in which these programs are expected and needed to perform, and as extreme weather events become more common it is imperative to have a strong base of support to limit the need for ad hoc responses during times of crisis.”
CFA asked for AgriRecovery assessments to be done in close consultation with producers as well as continued monitoring of the situation to determine if further steps are required.
GGC Chair Andre Harpe said many farmers are facing a devastating impact from the drought and AgriStability is the only program that can offer some meaningful support to grain farmers. “However, farmers will still not feel the full effects of these measures until the compensation rate for the program is increased from 70 to 80 per cent, a move which will rely on cost-sharing with the individual provinces.”
While the provinces face unique fiscal challenges, an investment in agriculture is more than worth it to support rural communities and the food security of all Canadians, he said. “This is a time where we must come together. We need everyone at the table to avoid playing politics and act quickly to provide an actionable and accessible support system for farmers.”
During a visit to Manitoba in late July, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced the early designation of the Livestock Tax Deferral provision for prescribed drought regions in Western Canada and Ontario. It will allow beef producers who are forced to sell a significant amount of their breeding herd due to drought conditions to offset the resulting revenues with the costs to replace the herd.
AgriRecovery assessments are underway with Ontario and the western provinces to gather all the necessary information as fast as possible to evaluate the extraordinary costs faced by producers and provide joint support as required. This could include direct assistance to producers for the added cost of livestock feed, transportation and water infrastructure.
Alex Binkley is a freelance journalist and writes for domestic and international publications about agriculture, food and transportation issues. He’s also the author of two science fiction novels with more in the works.