While much of the public conversation has been focused on UPOV ’91 and plant breeders rights, changes are also being made to the federal government’s Advance Payments Program now that Bill C-18 — the Agricultural Growth Act — has become law.
The amendments to the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act are supposed to make cash advances more accessible and flexible for farmers. The program provides eligible producers with short-term loans of up to $400,000, with the first $100,000 interest free.
Some of the main modifications include the following (click here for more detail from AAFC):
- Each producer group that serves as an Advance Payments Program administrator will be able to administer advances for all major field crops and livestock types (45 commodities in total.) Previously, each administrator was responsible for specific commodities in a specific region or province.
- Administrators will have the option of having producers only fill out a new application every five years. Updates will still be required annually, but much of the paperwork will not have to be repeated each year.
- To be eligible for an advance, you no longer need to be principally occupied in farming.
- Expand the use of cash repayments.
- Provide greater flexibility and options for what will be accepted as security allowing producers to secure larger advances (up to $400,000 limit.)
- Flexibility to allow breeding animals to be eligible under the program.
- Adjust the rules related to the repayment of advances, producers in default, default penalties and stays of default.
- Expedite processing under the Farm Debt Mediation Act giving producers quicker resolutions.
Many of these changes will be in place for April 1st, 2015, however Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada notes some cannot be implemented until amendments to regulations are completed.
Although requested by producer groups and administrators, the changes do not include an increase to the maximum cash advance limit of $400,000.
“The minister heard us loud and clear, but they decided not to (increase the limit) at this point in time. He can do it at any time in the future,” says Rick White, general manager of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, in the interview below. “But there are so many other good aspects to this — we’ll address the limits another day with the minister.”
Here’s a list of all the Advance Payments Program administrators across the country.
Following a press conference marking the passage of Bill C-18 in Winnipeg last week, White discussed what the changes to the cash advance program mean for farmers: