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B.C. to punch up AgriStability

Reference margin limit eliminated for 2019, 2020

British Columbia plans to make another $9 million available to farmers through “enhancements” to AgriStability for the 2019 and 2020 program years.

The province on Thursday announced it will increase the compensation rate available through the federal/provincial income stabilization program from 70 per cent to 80 per cent when margins fall below the 30 per cent payment threshold.

That means “every payment in 2019 and 2020 from AgriStability will be increased by 14.3 per cent,” Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a release.

“Currently, farms with the widest margins receive the least support,” she said — so for the 2019 and 2020 program years, the province is “eliminating the reference margin limit and that will address this problem.”

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Under what’s billed as the B.C. AgriStability Enhancement Program, B.C. farmers already in AgriStability for 2019 will “automatically” get the increased protection level, the province said, and those not yet enrolled can still enrol for 2020.

There are “no additional enrolment requirements beyond what is normally required to participate,” the province said.

‘Simple solution’

Popham’s announcement comes in the midst of lobbying by farm groups across Canada for changes to the AgriStability program.

Such requests generally call for AgriStability coverage to be adjusted to cover losses starting at 85 per cent of historical reference margins, with no reference margin limits.

Among others, such calls have come from the AGgrowth Coalition of farm groups, which includes the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Grain Growers of Canada, Canadian Canola Growers Association, Canadian Horticultural Council, Grain Farmers of Ontario and National Sheep Network.

Farm groups had hoped to see such an announcement coming out of the ag ministers’ meeting in Ottawa in December; the CFA, for one, described the proposed changes to AgriStability as “a simple, interim solution that can be implemented immediately while longer-term programming changes are considered.”

The requested changes can be made under the current federal/provincial business risk management (BRM) program framework, GGC has said previously.

Noting another ministerial meeting has been scheduled for the summer, the B.C. government said Thursday it’s still working with federal, provincial and territorial partners to make improvements to AgriStability on a nationwide basis. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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