Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. The federal government has a new agreement with the provinces that gives upgrades to a program that protects farmers against large declines in income. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

‘A big win for farmers’: Ottawa secures support for AgriStability with modified plans

OTTAWA — The federal government has a new agreement with the provinces that gives upgrades to a program that protects farmers against large declines in income.

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau hosted a meeting with provincial and territorial agriculture ministers Thursday to discuss planned changes to the AgriStability program that would increase payouts for production losses, increased costs and effects from market conditions.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were the only holdouts going into the meeting.

“We’ve received the support from all our prov. & territorial colleagues on the removal of the Reference Margin Limit from AgriStability, retroactive to 2020!” Bibeau tweeted.

“It’s a big win for farmers across Canada = about $95M/year. Thank you to all farmers & producer groups who got behind our offer.”

Ottawa had proposed last November to eliminate the reference margin limit, which serves to reduce a farmer’s payout and to boost the compensation rate to 80 per cent.

All the provinces agreed to removing the margin limit, but an agreement wasn’t reached on moving to an 80 per cent compensation rate.

“The federal government chose to withhold $75 million in compensation funding for farmers, costing Alberta $12 million per year in federal transfers,” said Alberta Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen.

“We are disappointed that the federal government chose to withhold these publicly communicated funds.”

In a statement, Bibeau’s office said the compensation rate changes must also be cost shared with the provinces.

“Our offer to boost compensation rate is still on the table and its potential $75M per year impact would also include provinces’ share,” the minister’s office said.

“It’s up to Prairie provinces to step up with their fair share so the funding can flow to Canadian farmers.”

Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Dave Marit said reliable risk management programming is essential to continued growth in the agriculture sector.

“Producers have made it clear that removing the reference margin limit will help the AgriStability program function as intended and make the program more effective and equitable,” Marit said.

Response from the agriculture sector was largely one of relief. But the Canadian Federation of Agriculture is calling on Bibeau to offer its increased compensation rate to supportive provinces.

“For years agriculture groups all across Canada have been telling their governments that these programs would not be sufficient in a real crisis. AgriStability, as a program responding solely to severe income losses, is there to help producers in crisis,” said CFA’s president, Mary Robinson.

“And now, at a time where Canadian agriculture faces immense disruptions and uncertainty, we see critical investments in risk management treated like a political game, with politicians haggling for over 100 days while farmers have real concerns about their livelihoods over the coming year.”

Alberta producer groups, including the Alberta Barley Commission, Alberta Beef Producers, Alberta Canola, Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association and Alberta Pork, also wish the percentage of compensation was higher.

“This portion of the federal offer includes an additional $75 million per year of support for Canadian producers,” the groups said in a release.

“We continue to encourage the provincial and territorial Ministers to consider accepting this part of the proposal, bringing additional support to Canadian farmers and ranchers.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Business Council of Alberta says the federal budget is nearly silent on Canada’s energy sector. (File photo by The Canadian Press)
Business Council of Alberta mostly disappointed in federal budget

Investments in childcare and early learning commended

.
3-hour paid leave for Albertans to get vaccinated in the works

The UCP government intends to introduce legislation that will ensure working Albertans… Continue reading

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Several cases of COVID-19 were reported among employees of stores at Bower Place Mall. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
COVID-19 cases reported at Bower Place mall stores

AHS said five complaints were investigated since March, and required changes made

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

Linda Tomlinson
Gardening: Leave the lawn until the soil is dry

Spring is arriving, Alberta style with warm days, cold days and snow.… Continue reading

Silent protests were held recently in response to Red Deer Public Schools’ decision to reject a Pride Week in favour of a Diversity Week. Some former employees at Red Deer Public are saying the decision is misguided. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Letter: School board silencing Pride Week concern

While it has been our practice to not comment on matters arising… Continue reading

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse (5) shoots next to Indiana Fever's Kamiah Smalls during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. Nurse isn't just one of Canada's finest female basketball players, she's becoming a popular voice of the game as well. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

The D.C. Defenders, right, line up against the Seattle Dragons for the opening kickoff of the opening football game of the XFL season, in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. Despite heated social media discussion in Canada, talks between the CFL and XFL haven't addressed what rules could be implemented in a potential partnership. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Stephen Whyno
CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

CFL commissioner Ambrosie says talks with XFL have centred around business, not rules

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Canada's Brianne Jenner (19) and Russia's Anna Shibanova (70) battle for position in front of Russia goaltender Alexandrova Nadezhda (31) during third period IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship preliminary round action in Plymouth, Mich., on Monday, April 3, 2017. The women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia has been cancelled a second time because of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Kryk
Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Women’s world hockey championship in Nova Scotia cancelled again

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford compete in the pairs figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
“Once in a lifetime opportunity” – Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

“Once in a lifetime opportunity” - Radford, James are Canada’s newest pairs team

Most Read