Reforming business risk management (BRM) programs, such as the AgriStability program, has been top of mind for many across the agriculture industry.
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau proposed changes to the program at the federal-provincial-territorial agricultural ministers’ meeting in November, which the federal government says would increase AgriStability payouts by 50 per cent, but the three Prairie provinces have not signed on. Under the terms of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, two of the three must agree to the program for it to proceed nationally.
The provinces have been given until the end of January to inform Minister Bibeau on whether they are still considering the proposal. The federal minister told reporters covering the Keystone Agricultural Producers’ annual meeting in Manitoba on Tuesday (Jan. 26) that she had not yet received an official response from any of the Prairie provinces.
Speaking with RealAgriculture, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Devin Dreeshen says Alberta is still working with commodity groups to develop a potential replacement program to AgriStability. For Dreeshen, his primary concern is that cash flow should be much more immediate than the up-to-two years it currently takes under AgriStability.
“We’re looking at a more structured approach of replacing AgriStability with a margin-based insurance program,” Dreeshen explains. “It’s something that we’ve released a report out to commodity groups. We’ve had our intentions of looking at what the problems are that have flawed the design of AgriStability, and how a new AgriStability program should be a) more timely in its support when it actually pays out, and b) it should be something that is equitable across commodity types. It should also be predictable in that farmers and ranchers should be able to know in a year if they are actually going to get a payment or not, versus the melees and the question marks that are currently out there.”
Currently, the province is working on getting to the cabinet treasury board to consider the AgriStability changes they are looking for; however, the main focus still lies on fixing the structural problems of AgriStability, and developing a program that does work for the entire ag sector, says Dreeshen.
Check out the full conversation between Minister Dreeshen and RealAgriculture’s Kara Oosterhuis, below: