Maintaining Alberta’s risk management funding is “critical” for farmers who are facing “extreme uncertainty,” said the chair of Alberta Pulse Growers.
“Money has been steadily reduced in a lot of the risk management programs at AFSC,” said Allison Ammeter. “Farmers need that if we’re going to be able to stay in the industry and keep at agriculture long term.”
Government-supported risk management programs are “a key way that farmers protect our production.”
But in recent years, producers have seen “incremental” changes to the qualification thresholds in programs offered by AFSC — a provincial Crown corporation that delivers provincial and federal risk management programs like crop insurance.
“It’s not so much that the government has dropped programs. It’s that it has dropped your qualification for them,” said Ammeter. “There are some programs that, if you drop the qualifications enough, they become useless.”
- More Election 2015: Feedlot association has a beef with crumbling infrastructure
One such program is AgriStability, a federal program that receives provincial support.
“AgriStability has very much had its levels changed. A lot of people have opted out because it’s not going to work anymore.”
Other risk management programs — including crop and straight hail insurance — aren’t immune to these kinds of changes, said Ammeter. And farmers can’t carry all the risks themselves.
“A farmer has to be able to cover their risk in order to continue on,” she said.
“If there are extreme weather situations, we need to be able to manage against that, or we can’t continue to take the risk of putting seed in the ground every year.”
The recent closure of nine AFSC offices across the province “certainly isn’t helping,” said Ammeter.
“If your nearest insurance office has gone from being 30 miles away to 80 miles away, your service is more limited,” she said.
“We need those people.”