Canada’s Ministers of Agriculture Agree Fundamental Improvement to the AgriStability Program

During the virtual meeting of Canada’s federal, provincial, and territorial (FPT) Ministers of Agriculture, Ministers agreed to remove the reference margin limit for AgriStability, one of the business risk management (BRM) programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership in order to better support farmers.

Source: Agriculture and Agri Food Canada

The removal of the reference margin limit will be made retroactive to the 2020 program year. In addition, the deadline for producers to enroll in the 2021 program year will be extended to June 30, 2021.

The meeting was convened to discuss key changes to the program, in order to better support farmers facing challenges. Removing the reference margin limit could increase the overall amount AgriStability pays out to farmers by approximately $95 million nationally.

The objectives in making this change are to help simplify the program and help farmers in need by increasing the level of support for agricultural operations with lower allowable expenses. This change is an important step towards making the program easier to understand, more bankable, more accessible, and more fair for some sectors, who might have been left out of the program under the previous rules.

Costs for the removal of the reference margin limit will be shared, as outlined in the Canadian Agricultural Partnership; 60% by the federal government and 40% by provincial and territorial governments.

This change will help producers better manage risks and financial losses due to poor yields, low commodity prices or rising input costs. AgriStability provides support when producers experience a large margin decline.

The federal government first tabled its AgriStability proposal during the last FPT Ministers conference in November 2020. At that time, Ministers agreed that BRM programs needed to improve to better target emerging risks that threaten the viability of the farm. As well, programs should be simple, predictable, and respond quickly for producers, while treating farms fairly and equitably.

Ministers also noted that analysis continues on alternative risk management designs. This analysis will inform upcoming discussions on longer-term reforms, set to take place at their next in-person Annual Conference in Guelph, Ontario scheduled for September 8-10, 2021.

Ministers also recognize the importance of close collaboration with each other to ensure the successful development and implementation of the next five-year agricultural policy framework, expected to be in place on April 1, 2023.

“This is a big win for farmers across Canada, resulting in about $95 million per year. Thank you to all of the farmers and producer groups who got behind the federal offer. Our offer remains on the table for cost-shared improvements to the compensation rate. Canadian agriculture is a shared jurisdiction and we’ve been clear BRM improvements must respect the cost-shared fundamentals,”

said The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

“Our farmers have always worked tirelessly to ensure Canadians have access to safe, healthy, locally produced food – especially so during this pandemic. As agriculture ministers, it is our responsibility to assist them in those efforts and removing the reference margin limit beginning in the 2020 program year is going to provide help to farmers that are facing challenging times right now. It is important we continue our discussions to work on further improvements to the AgriStability program to support our farmers and critical agri-food sector,”

added Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for Ontario.

Source: Agriculture and Agri Food Canada