The province’s crop commissions are urging producers to call their local Agricultural Financial Services Corporation office to get their unharvested acres examined.
“The message from AFSC was that they were going to be flexible and work with farmers of unharvested grain,” said Alberta Wheat chair Todd Hames.
“We would encourage farmers to be proactive in communicating with their AFSC office as to what the procedure would be.”
The major crop commissions recently had a conference call with the assistant deputy agriculture minister and a senior manager of AFSC to express their concerns about dealing with unharvested acres. With a late spring, farmers have no time to waste, said Hames, who farms near Marwayne.
“If the crop is not worth harvesting, a farmer can quickly make the decision to plow or remove the crop residue so they can get that crop planted,” he said. “The last harvest may have been a disaster for some producers with crop out in the field… We don’t want them to lose a second crop.”
It may be awhile before some farmers are able to get on their land because they are waiting for the snow to melt, he noted.
“If the quality is such that it is not salvageable, then we don’t want producers to waste time waiting for AFSC for an OK to destroy that crop,” he said.
“The main message we want to get out to producers is to be proactive and to reach out to their local AFSC office. It sounds like they might write off crops without seeing them if they don’t have the time.
The insurer has revised procedures to expedite claims to minimize interruptions for producers this spring. A “zero yield” designation will be applied in situations where AFSC has determined a crop is not harvestable, as well as on acres when the value is determined to be less than the cost of harvesting.
AFSC has posted a Q-and-A on unharvested crops on its website at afsc.ca.
It says “producers are requested to ask for their assessment two weeks in advance, at minimum, so their assessment can be scheduled before they take action to put their crop to their selected end use.”
The document also notes that damage from specified wildlife is covered by the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program and producers don’t have to have crop insurance to make a claim under that program (as long as the crop is one that is eligible for crop insurance).
“If an insured producer has unharvested acres with wildlife damage, they should contact AFSC to ask for a simultaneous assessment of both the crop and wildlife damage,” it states.
The insurer is also encouraging producers who haven’t paid their premiums from the 2019 crop year to get in touch.
“AFSC has been working with producers who have unpaid premiums and unharvested crops to reach amicable repayment arrangements,” the document says, while noting “outstanding premiums for the 2019 crop year need to be paid in full by April 30” for a producer to be eligible for crop insurance coverage this year.
The News section of the AFSC website also details on how inspections are being conducted during the pandemic. Among the protocols are:
- Producers will be met at the field being inspected but whenever possible, inspectors will gather key info by phone or email. They will, however, take photos of receipts during a farm visit.
- Inspection reports will be emailed to producers to review. When a producer signs off on a report, he or she can send an email saying they have signed off.
- Inspectors will only go to a farm if the producer is “comfortable” with the inspector coming onto his or her property.
“This may include situations where clients are present at a safe distance from AFSC staff or when a client allows AFSC to inspect while the client is not present. Some low-risk claims may be approved without a physical inspection by AFSC.”
About 1.6 million acres in Alberta weren’t harvested prior to winter.
— With staff files