'Stuck in the stone age': slow movement on BRM programs disappointing to farm groups

Although there are still talks happening behind closed doors, progress of the business risk management program (BRM) review feels as though it’s slow-moving. At this year’s CropConnect conference held at Winnipeg, Man., the topic was acknowledged by federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, but there was no mention of action — which is what most are hoping for.

Members of the AgGrowth Coalition (AGC), Jeff Nielsen and Jack Froese were in attendance and stopped by the RealAgriculture booth to discuss the matter.

Nielsen, who serves as the chair of the Grain Growers of Canada, says since he’s been a part of the AGC, the file has moved but now it’s essentially stalled.

“We’ve been asking for reforms, we’ve been asking for changes, we’re asking for AgriStability to be increased to the 85 per cent level, and the reference margin limits eliminated as it was years ago — just to help farmers carry through the next suite of programs that will be coming out in 2023,” Nielsen explains.

He added at the latest Federal Provincial Territorial (FPT) Ag Ministers meeting just two months ago, nothing was accomplished with the ministers essentially trying to buy more time by asking for more information.

Farm groups call out FPT ministers on slow pace and little action

Froese, a current Manitoba Canola Growers director and past president of the Canadian Canola Growers Association, calls the lack of action extremely frustrating.

“If you look at the environments, and how everything is changed in agriculture in the last number of years — the business risk management programs just haven’t kept up,” he says. “They’re stuck in the stone age so to speak. If you’re looking at 70 per cent margins on AgriStability, really the program (which has) less than 30 per cent enrolment, there’s a reason why the enrolment is at such a low level.”

Although the government claims the program is successful, Froese claps back saying it clearly is not meeting the needs of Canadian farmers.

To look back at the past year, there was three “black swan events” that continue to hurt farmers bottom line according to Froese. Those being the China market closing for canola, the harvest from hell, and most recently, the coronavirus that’s having a huge impact on market prices. With no backstop to these events, and not being able to know what lies ahead, he says there has to be some sort of safeguard system to help in times of uncertainty that’s beyond their control.

Listen to the full interview between RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse, GGC’s Jeff Nielsen and MCGA’s Jack Froese below.

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