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Federal Government Proposes Changes to AgriStability

There was no agreement on changes to the Business Risk Management programs following two days of meetings with Canada's Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Agriculture ministers.
 
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says she put forward a proposal on improving AgriStability.
 
"As a starting point our government is looking to remove the reference margin limit. We are prepared to make additional immediate announcements to AgriStability that would apply retroactively to the 2020 year and ongoing. Furthermore, to ensure a greater coverage on losses and to ensure funding is targeted to the farmers who are impacted the most, I also proposed we find consensus to increase the compensation rate from 70 per cent to 80 per cent."
 
The government's release notes that AgriStability is the main BRM program farmers rely on when they experience a significant income decline. However, since this program was cut in 2013, participation rates have declined to the point where it is clear improvements are needed. At that time, a Reference Margin Limit was introduced to AgriStability which can limit the payments a farmer receives and makes the program so complex, farmers can’t predict if they will get a payment or not.
 
Bibeau says she wants AgriStability to provide a greater level of support, while making sure it is simple, predictable and timely for producers.
 
"We estimate that if all jurisdictions remove the reference margin limit that alone will increase the overall amount of funding available to farmers through AgriStability by over 30 per cent, and if we also increase the compensation rate it would increase by over 50 per cent."
 
For years, farmers and ranchers have raised concerns about the ineffectiveness of the AgriStability portion of the BRM Programs.
 
She notes that as they begin consultations for the next cost-shared agreement, there is a clear collective desire amongst ministers to make long-term improvements to the suite of BRM programs.
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