Quebec to halt ASRA for veal sector


Quebec’s farm finance and funding agency plans to remove the veal sector from the province’s ASRA income stabilization program starting next year.

La Financiere agricole du Quebec (FADQ) announced Friday that its board had agreed to end ASRA (Assurance stabilisation des revenus agricoles) coverage for Quebec’s milk-fed veal calf operations, effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Affected producers, after that date, will be eligible for coverage instead under the Agri-Quebec and Agri-Quebec Plus programs which, combined with the federal/provincial AgriStability and AgriInvest programs, will provide “advantageous” coverage levels, FADQ said.

FADQ’s decision follows “several months” of review, through which the agency said the sector has shown it would be impossible to objectively establish cost-of-production and sale price values — a situation the agency said is due in part to the lack of competition and “strong concentration” of sector activities.

According to La Terre de chez nous, the news organ of Quebec farm group l’Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), most of the province’s veal operations are tightly integrated with its two main processing players, Ecolait and Delimax, which together handle about 90 per cent of veal slaughter volume.

According to the provincial cattle producers’ federation, Quebec today has about 160 veal calf producers, mainly in the St-Hyacinthe, Bois-Francs and Quebec City areas. A typical veal operation, the federation said, currently produces about 777 calves per year.

ASRA in 2014 based its coverage on 2008 values and production costs derived from an FADQ survey of specialized farms selling between 500 and 1,500 calves per year, for compensation of $130.20 per calf, or $106.62 per 100 kilograms.

FADQ said it had sought the help of veal sector representatives in recent months to show how the sector could fit into the ASRA model, but the agency’s analysis “established the impossibility of doing so.”

Expanding Agri-Quebec and Agri-Quebec Plus instead “will allow us to maintain support to this sector,” FADQ chair Diane Vincent said in a release Friday.

Agri-Quebec, a provincially funded program, is a risk management program complementary to AgriInvest. Agri-Quebec Plus, meanwhile, boosts the coverage level under AgriStability to 80 per cent, up from 70, for farms whose products aren’t eligible for ASRA. Farms eligible for AgriStability are automatically also enrolled in Agri-Quebec Plus.

The agency plans to “personally” contact affected producers to evaluate their options under Agri-Quebec and Agri-Quebec Plus, FADQ CEO Robert Keating said in Friday’s release.

The agency will also be in touch with banks and other financial institutions to clarify any concerns about the sector’s future viability, he added. — Network


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