Laura, SK—Today the National Farmers Union (NFU) wrote to Hon. Nate Horner, Alberta Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development and Hon. Dave Marit, Saskatchewan Minister of Agriculture, urgently requesting each of them to follow BC’s and Manitoba’s example and allow late enrollment in AgriStability so that thousands financially stressed farmers will be able to access the safety net program.
“Prairie farmers have just gone through one of the worst drought seasons on record. The most severely affected areas had little to no crop, and overall, yield is down dramatically all across western Canada. Nobody predicted this situation in the spring when many farmers locked in prices based on their expected harvest, as a way to manage cash flow,” said Will Robbins, NFU 1st Vice President (Policy). “In many cases these contracts did not include a Force Majeure clause, and that puts all of the burden on the farmer when circumstances beyond their control cause a crop failure.”
Drought-stricken farmers who have to either buy local grain at much higher prices to make up the contract shortfall, or pay the difference between the contracted and current prices in cash, are in dire straits. Grain companies are demanding payment, and charging high interest rates to the extent that some farmers are facing more financial stress than they can bear.
During the summer, when it was clear that farmers were going to have financial difficulty as a result of the drought, Manitoba and British Columbia recognized the problem and allowed their farmers and ranchers to access the AgriStability Program even if they had not enrolled by the earlier deadline.
“After the previous federal government put a margin cap on AgriStability and changed the margin loss trigger from 85% to 70%, it no longer made sense for a majority of farmers to participate and over two-thirds of farmers have been operating without this safety net in recent years,” added Stewart Wells, NFU 2nd Vice President (Operations). “Contract buy-out is an eligible expense, so late enrollment could help sustain some of these farms and keep more farm families in their communities.”
“We urge the Alberta and Saskatchewan Ministers to do everything in their power to help farmers survive this year’s terrible financial blow and ensure they are in a position to plant a crop in 2021-22,” said Doug Scott of Waskatenau, Alberta. “Using an existing risk-management program—AgriStability—would at least put farmers in Saskatchewan and Alberta on an equal footing with farmers in Manitoba and B. C.”
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For more information:
Will Robbins, NFU 1st Vice President (306) 652-6019
Stewart Wells, NFU 2nd Vice President (306) 773-6852
Doug Scott, NFU Region 7 (Alberta) Board member (780) 650-1336
Letters to Ministers