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Farmers And Ranchers Call For Temporary Drought Related Action On Crop Insurance

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association held a town hall meeting yesterday to discuss the drought situation, which is impacting producers from British Columbia to Ontario.

Extreme temperatures and below average rainfall have deteriorated pasture, hay and cropland which has resulted in limited feed supplies, with many producers who are short on feed and water supplies looking at culling animals hard this year.

In many areas, crop producers are facing extremely poor crops and are looking at whether to invest in crop protection products or if the crop is even worth taking through to harvest.

Brady Stadnicki is the CCA's Manager of Policy and Programs and outlined the CCA and Provincial Cattle Association requests for action from the Federal and Provincial governments.

He says the first request is to enact temporary, but immediate, measures on crop insurance programming to support the timely designation of crops into livestock feed.

"We're also requesting under crop insurance that there be some incentives or preferential treatment, to be announced, so that it helps allow crops to be grazed or converted into feed without penalty. So one option is to increase the low yield appraisal thresholds, values for farmers who salvage crops into livestock feed, without impacting that future individual coverage. This was actually a measure announced in Saskatchewan last week, and we'd like to see this widely implemented across the drought stricken provinces immediately. Some other incentives on crop insurance that, you know, we'd like to see is excluding or lowering the weighted average of the current crop year yields from a producer's long term individual yield calculation or individual production index calculation. If their crop is used for feeder grazing. We think that would be an incentive to really help more crop go into feed production. And another option would be looking at some sort of premium rebate or discount on next year's crop insurance premiums for producers who are designating crops into livestock feed. This request is very urgent given the closing window available to salvage crops for feed. It's a top priority for the beef industry to maintain the cattle herd by working with grain and oilseed farmers to convert these failed or poor crops into suitable feed while this opportunity still exists."

Stadnicki says they also want Ottawa and the provinces to immediately initiate drought relief programming under agri-recovery, and implement a livestock tax deferral provision for areas impacted by the drought that covers more than one year and all classes of cattle.

He notes they're also urging governments to dedicate additional resources to support quality water access and infrastructure.

CCA President, Bob Lowe, says due to the critical timeline we are facing, the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association appreciates working in close collaboration with our grains and oilseed neighbours to maintain the cow herd in devastating drought-stricken areas across the country.

Mike Ammeter, Chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association, says this summer’s severe drought is impacting growers across western Canada.

"The severity and realities faced on each farm are different, and as such we are joining with our partner organizations to call upon all levels of government to improve the flexibility and responsiveness of programs in the short term. We want to make sure that growers have options, so they can make the best decision for their farms and, if possible and appropriate, to also help their rancher neighbours."

Andre Harpe, chair of the Grain Growers of Canada, says grain growers are supportive of temporary and focused solutions to help ensure the sustainability of the ranching community.

"Many farmers are facing difficult decisions regarding their crops due to contract obligations, and may not be able to divert crops to feed, however, many others may be willing, and incentives are the best way to encourage adoption."

In order to support the current and long-term viability of beef, grain and oilseed producers facing severe drought conditions, CCGA, CCA and GGC are requesting temporary but immediate actions be taken on crop insurance program communications and design.

Ensure Crop Insurance Corporations have enhanced communications and processes on drought related measures:

- Expedite approvals for insured crops to be designated for livestock feed or grazing purposes.
- Ensure crop insurance office staff and adjusters can assist with producer requests or questions in a timely manner through proper resourcing and internal modifications to operations to increase flexibility during this time of urgency.

Provide incentives or preferential treatment under crop insurance to allow insured crops to be grazed or converted to feed without penalty

- Increase Low Yield Appraisal thresholds values for farmers who salvage crops for livestock feed without impacting future individual coverage. This has been announced in Saskatchewan and should be widely implemented across drought-stricken provinces.
- Exclude or lower the weighted average of current year crop yields from a producer’s long-term individual yield or individual production index calculation if their crop is used for livestock feed or grazing.
- Provide a premium rebate or discount on next year’s crop insurance premiums for producers who designate crops for livestock feed

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