Farmers have until June 30 to apply for the program
By Diego Flammini
British Columbia farmers have more time to apply for a federal assistance program.
On Monday, federal Ag Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau and B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham announced they’ve triggered the late participation mechanism for the AgriStability program, which provides support when farmers experience large market declines.
New B.C. farmers or those who previously opted out of the program now have until the end of June to apply for the program covering 2018. Enrolled producers have had their fee payment deadline extended to April 30.
“Producers can have access to the AgriStability funds whether they originally registered or not,” Minister Bibeau told reporters in Vernon, B.C., Global News reported. “We understand how hard it has been with these changes in the weather and fluctuation of prices for certain commodities.”
Despite the extension, farmers are encouraged to apply early.
Those who wait too long may only receive 80 per cent of allotted compensation.
It’s “an incentive for all farmers to register soon, (but) at the same time, we didn’t want to leave all those farmers behind,” Bibeau said.
Cattle producers are appreciative of the added enrollment time.
Last year’s wildfires caused farmers to lose buildings, pastureland and even cattle.
Accessing the AgriStability program will help ranchers offset some of those losses, said Dave Haywood-Farmer, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
“Today’s announcement will benefit more B.C. producers and farmers who were impacted by the fires in 2018, which, unfortunately, are becoming a regular occurrence in B.C. during the summer,” he told The Columbia Valley Pioneer. “It’s also a good example of the diversity of conditions that can impact Canadian beef industries in any given year.”
Receiving the assistance could also be the difference between a farmer raising food or selling the property.
“I think, in some cases, it will be the difference between whether some people stay in business or don’t stay in business, particularly with some of the big fires we had in the northern part of the province, where agriculture is a very big part of some of the smaller communities,” John Anderson, vice-president of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association, told Global News.