Soybeans are here to stay in Alberta and the announcement they now qualify for Agricultural Financial Services Crop insurance coverage is expected to boost acreage.
“There were a number of people who were waiting for that program to be in place before growing soybeans, so I see it as a positive step for expanding the soybean acreage in Alberta,” said Patrick Fabian, soybean grower and pedigreed seed producer.
Both dryland and irrigated soybeans will be insurable under a new AFSC program called the “New Crops Insurance Initiative.” Until now, producers who grew soybeans could only get hail coverage.
The change is another sign that soybeans are a viable crop in the province, said Fabian, who lives in Tilley.
“This is just another step in giving farmers assurance that this is not a flash-in-the-pan crop,” he said. “Soybeans are here to stay.
“A lot of producers wanted an all-risk component to it, so that in the event of frost or extreme weather or something that would have prevented them from harvesting a crop, there would be another component to it. This offers a more rounded package for the producer, so they can mitigate their risk.”
Other crops covered under the New Crops Insurance Initiative include perennials like brome grasses, clovers, fescue, wheat and ryegrass as well as caraway and coriander. All of these crops are eligible for hail coverage as well.
The program will offer a base level of coverage, said Ken Handford, product development analyst with AFSC.
“This will give the producers the opportunity to insure some of the costs that they have and from AFSC’s point of view, it will give us the opportunity to collect more information on crops such as soybeans so we could look at bringing them into the regular crop insurance program going forward,” said Handford.
Coverage will be available on a flat dollar-per-acre basis. Dryland soybeans coverage is $225 per acre while irrigated soybeans can receive coverage up to $310 per acre.
Fabian estimates about 12,000 acres of soybeans were grown last year in Alberta. While the crop has potential, it can only be grown in certain areas of the province. Soybeans can grow well in the southern, irrigated areas around Daysland and Camrose, and in some areas of the Peace country.
The crop needs about 110 days to mature, and 2,100 heat units to make a crop.
A new soybean crush facility is currently being built in southern Alberta.
“We’re seeing primary and secondary industries firing up in Alberta as a result of another cropping opportunity,” said Fabian.
Alberta soybean growers also enjoyed a transportation advantage this year because the crop has finally reached a critical mass in the province. That meant producers were able to ship directly to the coast.
“The line companies are giving us that freight differential, so all year long for this marketing season our producers in Alberta have been enjoying a $1.20- to $1.45-per-bushel advantage over our Manitoba counterparts, since we’re already halfway to port,” Fabian said. “We’re seeing all these little things come together, and I really see an increase in soybeans in Alberta over the next number of years.”
AFSC will only be offering coverage for specific risk areas and growers should contact their local branch office to see if there is coverage in their area, said Handford.