Canadian provincial and territorial ag ministers agreed to remove reference margin limits from AgriStability, however, did not reach a consensus on increased compensation rates
By Jackie Clark
Yesterday the federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers of agriculture from across Canada met virtually and agreed to remove the AgriStability reference margin limit, according to a March 25 release from 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,” said the release.
In November, the federal government tabled a proposal to improve AgriStability by removing the reference margin limits, as well as increase the compensation rate from 70 to 80 per cent. Until the most recent FPT meeting, Prairie provinces hadn’t reached a decision on the proposal, though most other provinces had given positive responses.
Canadian agriculture groups had mixed reactions to the news.
“While Canadian Federation of Agriculture is pleased to see the removal of the reference margin limit, which has unduly and inequitably limited support for many producers since its introduction, CFA is disappointed that it appears some provinces were unwilling to adopt enhancements to the compensation rate for farmers,” said a March 25 statement from the CFA.
The organization “calls on the federal government to offer the increased compensation rate to those provinces which have indicated their support for this aspect of the federal proposal.”
The agriculture sector is in a good position to drive Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19, Mary Robinson, president of the CFA, said in the statement.
“An enhancement to the compensation rate would ensure all producers have access to increased support when they trigger payments,” she added.
The Canadian Pork Council (CPC) also emphasized the importance of compensation rate increases.
The CPC acknowledged federal AAFC minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s efforts to find agreement on AgriStability improvements “but are extremely disappointed that the (FPT) ministers could not reach consensus on Minister Bibeau’s proposal to improve payment rates,” said a March 25 statement.
“We know AgriStability negotiations are not easy, but removing the reference margin limit does very little for pork producers,” said Rick Bergmann, CPC, in the statement. “We expected that, in these difficult times, the prairie provincial ministers would have considered the challenges faced by pork producers.”
Bibeau called the removal of reference margin limits “a big win for farmers across Canada, resulting in about $95 million per year,” in the release from AAFC.