The National Farmers Union continues to be a part of efforts to help farmers who work on smaller scale land bases to be able to access affordable crop insurance programs. The NFU in Manitoba (Region 5) has been advocating on this issue for many years and may be on the verge of helping with changes to offerings given by their public insurance provider MASC (Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation).
On February 16, a Virtual Kitchen Table Meeting was held to collaborate and discuss options for farmers who could use this type of insurance. It was an informative gathering that explored what had been proposed in the past, experiences of those who had been affected by crop loss and the struggle of trying to gain insurance for multiple crops grown on less than 3 acres. Several Insurance options were discussed from whole farm insurance, to per metre options based on greenhouses in BC.
The challenge right now as it stands is that the starting acreage for insurance in Manitoba is 3 acres for just one crop type, so anyone growing veggies or fruits that are combined and less than that, cannot have access to any crop insurance options through MASC.
Our discussions and collaborations with groups like Direct Farms Manitoba, and Prairie Fruit Growers Association have lead MASC to start exploring the matter and taking it seriously. There are still several loopholes to go through but the process has very much begun.
Some promising models that MASC has reviewed to compare are offered in Quebec and Saskatchewan. In these provinces Quebec has 30 crops covered in a basket value and Saskatchewan has 20 crops covered in a Basket value that are put into categories or “baskets” when applying for insurance that can be combined to offer insurance for 2.5 to .5 acres minimum of crop respectively. These have great potential as they offer small scale diversity to be recognized and insurable.
We believe adequate insurance programs are important for many different types of farmers growing local food and starting up. The National Farmers Union has the ability to work with any province dealing with these issues and will use the work done in Manitoba to help learn and improve on insurance measures in other provinces.
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