More than 100 days have passed since changes to the program were announced
By Diego Flammini
The federal minister of agriculture is still waiting to hear from her Prairie counterparts on if they’ll accept the proposed changes to AgriStability made public more than 100 days ago.
Last November, the federal government tabled a proposal to eliminate the reference margin limit and increase the compensation rate to 80 percent. These changes could lead to increased payments of 50 per cent, or $170 million nationally.
Most provinces have indicated their stances on the changes, but Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta have not.
“We have received positive responses from almost all other provinces in Canada, but in order to enact these changes, we are still waiting (for a) clear response from all thee Prairie provinces,” Marie-Claude Bibeau said in a press conference Wednesday. “We need a strong consensus that includes the Priaries if we are going to move forward with these changes that farmers have been asking for.”
Two of the three Prairie provinces must agree to the changes before they can be implemented, Bibeau added.
Prairie ag ministers have requested another federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) meeting with Minister Bibeau.
Any decisions about AgriStability may come after those meetings.
“Alberta’s government called on the federal government over two weeks ago, on March 2nd, to schedule the next (FPT) meeting to discuss and finally vote on short-term changes to AgriStability,” Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s ag minister, told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “I look forward to discussing improvements to business risk management programs with my colleagues across the country.
Manitoba’s ag minister is also waiting for the next set of FPT meetings.
“Our province continues to review the proposal for short-term AgriStability enhancements with consideration of the priority issues that are threatening our producers and industry,” a spokesperson for Minister Perdesen told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “Minister Pedersen recently wrote to Minister Bibeau asking that an FPT meeting be called as soon as possible to discuss short term amendments and long-term reforms. Supporting growth and opportunity in Manitoba’s agricultural sector is a top priority of our government, and it is essential that we continue to work together for the immediate and long-term needs of our producers.”
Saskatchewan’s ag minister is reserving any decision until after the next FPT meeting as well.
“Saskatchewan is one of the provinces that has been asking for a follow-up FPT call to take place for several months,” David Marit told Farms.com in an emailed comment. “It is nice to see after all this time that the federal Minister is finally willing to bring her provincial and territorial colleagues back to the table to complete this important discussion on enhancements to AgriStability.”
Minister Bibeau is in the process of scheduling the next FPT meeting. No official date has been set, she said Thursday.
The deadline to enroll in AgriStability is April 30.
If there’s no consensus by then, the situation “would be status quo. That would be very unfortunate,” Bibeau said.