Eastern Canadian Grain Farmers Ready for Risk Programs to be at 85 Percent Following FPT Meeting

Ontario, CANADA

GUELPH, Ontario and LONGUEUIL, Quebec and MONCTON, New Brunswick, Nov. 17, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TODAY, Atlantic Grain Council, Grain Farmers of Quebec (Producteurs de grains du Québec), and Grain Farmers of Ontario recognize Canadian Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau for her recent comments highlighting the necessity of AgriStability change and its importance for the upcoming meeting of federal, provincial, territorial (FPT) agriculture ministers.

Atlantic Grains Council, Grain Farmers of Quebec and Grain Farmers of Ontario have made it clear in their recent public awareness campaign that reinstating the former conditions to AgriStability – both raising the trigger to 85 percent and removing the reference margin limits – is essential to offer better support for grain farmers.

AgriStability is a Business Risk Management (BRM) program that only helps farmers during times of great need, and is cost-shared by farmers, the provinces, and the federal government. Minister Bibeau has recognized the need for BRM change.

Minister Bibeau has recently stated that her objective is to find consensus among provinces to “make AgriStability more generous, easier to understand and to proceed with, and also fairer when we look at the different sectors in agriculture.”

She has also stated, “we all already agree on the fact that removing the reference margin limit should be the first step.”

However, the Eastern Canadian grain groups remind Minister Bibeau that raising the trigger for AgriStability to 85 percent must go hand-in-hand with reference margin limit removal.

“We are hopeful when we see Minister Bibeau’s comments that she recognizes the need to increase the trigger and remove the reference margin limit as a solution for AgriStability’s shortfalls, but we are also concerned that without all of the provinces on side, the program won’t be fixed. We cannot afford more disruptions without the proper business assurance programs in place,” said Markus Haerle Chair, Grain Farmers of Ontario.

“For a grain farmer in Eastern Canada, the AgriStability trigger at its current 70 percent equates to no, or very little, support in times of crisis. The FPT meeting represents a unique opportunity for leaders to ensure the health and safety of our food system for generations to come. Minister Bibeau’s support is vital and we urge the provinces to come together to make these much-needed changes to AgriStability,” said Roy Culberson, Chair, Atlantic Grains Council.

“In 2013 AgriStability became a non-viable support program for most grain farmers in Canada and it has remained that way. We need to be prepared for the next market disruption, that requires, at least, this program returning to 85 percent triggers with the reference margin limit removed,” said Christian Overbeek, chair of the Grain Farmers of Quebec.

A November 2020 report by Agri-Food economic Systems (“AgriStability is in Need of Crucial Reform”) stated that bringing the AgriStability trigger back to 85 percent with no reference margin limit “…would provide an improved investment climate for producers, to ensure continuing productivity growth. Increasing the AgriStability trigger does not undermine Canada’s commitments on most distorting agricultural support, nor its commitment to rules-based trade.

The changes from both removal of the reference margin limit and an increase in the trigger to 85 percent are a sufficient starting point. They could offset the growing chorus for ad hoc support, similar to the U.S. programs, by bringing participants back to AgriStability, and giving governments and industry time to set in place a longer term BRM design, consistent with international market disruptions and volatility anticipated. The full report can be read here.

A background document on the state of AgriStability and grain farming can be found here.

Atlantic Grains Council, Producteurs de Grains du Québec/Grain Growers of Quebec, and Grain Farmers of Ontario represent over 40,000 grain and oilseed farmers in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, and Ontario.


Atlantic Grains Council, Heather Russell – 506 381-5404, heather@atlanticgrainscouncil.ca
Producteurs de grains du Québec, Julie Mercier – 514-743-9410, jmercier@pgq.ca
Grain Farmers of Ontario, Victoria Berry, Manager, Communications – 226 820-6641; vberry@gfo.ca