AAFC invests in AgriShield to address risk management on-farm
By Jennifer Jackson
Farmers will soon have another tool in their toolbox for dealing with risk on the farm. The federal government invested $786,921 towards the development of an online resource to help farmers manage uncontrollable challenges, according to a May 25 release.
Farm Management Canada will develop AgriShield to monitor a variety of farm risks, including pests, flooding, disease and extreme weather events.
Francis Drouin, member of Parliament, made the announcement today in Embrun, Ontario.
“Canadian farmers face risk every day and it is essential they have the necessary tools to better understand and manage risk,” he said in the release. “The recent flooding in Eastern Ontario and Quebec, for example, shows the need to help farmers more effectively manage risk, so that they can be stronger, more innovative and more competitive.”
AgriShield will allow producers to assess these risks and the potential impacts on their farm in real-time. In a flooding situation, for example, producers could determine their degree of risk, the impacts the flood would have on their farms, and if there are any ways to mitigate the risk, such as drainage or insurance.
The tool is also a way to bring awareness to the importance of risk management, according to Heather Watson, executive director for Farm Management Canada.
“Less than one third of Canada’s farmers have a risk management plan,” she said in the release. “Our ultimate goal is to increase the awareness and adoption of risk management practices and planning as part of the farm management process and cultivate a more comprehensive understanding and approach to assessing and managing risk within the agricultural sector.”
The benchmarking data in the tool will be useful for not only farmers but also for agriculture businesses and commodity groups, says Watson, who also mentions the tool is still in its early stage of development.
“We have just finished the first stage of the project where we met as a project team to initiate the game plan, then we reached out to industry stakeholders to be part of our Project Advisory Committee,” she said in an interview with Farms.com.
“We have held a meeting of the committee, and much time and effort has been spent in hosting focus groups in various locations across Canada, welcoming diverse stakeholders from farmers to advisers, commodity groups, private industry, lenders, government, academia and others to help inform the project to ensure the outcome is an accessible, use-friendly tool that meets the needs of the sector.
“First and foremost, we want farmers to be able to use this tool directly to identify, assess, prioritize and plan their risk management activities.”
“With a better understanding of risk, farm managers are more likely to take the right risks, mitigate the bad, and continue to profit,” Watson said. “The tool will not only allow farmers to identify, prioritize and plan for risk, but will also equip farmers with a wide variety of options available to manage risk.”
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s investment is made through its AgriRisk Initiatives, a Growing Forward 2 program.