As with most small business owners across Canada, farmers take on significant financial risk to do what they love – growing safe, healthy grains for Canadians and the world. With 97% of farms in Canada still family run, this means that entire families have their livelihoods tied up in their farms.
While it is the goal of grain and oilseed farmers is to succeed independent of government assistance – strong Business Risk Management (BRM) programs provide a reliable safety net that helps create an environment where farmers have the confidence to make investments to ensure their future success. These programs help farmers manage risk on their operations from severe weather, pests, and poor market conditions. GGC is working with its’ member groups, other provincial and national organizations and government to develop programs that that will be more reliable, more predictable and more bankable and will meet the needs of grain farmers and the agriculture industry as a whole.
Currently, four BRM programs serve farmers, funded under the federal/provincial/territorial Growing Forward 2 Policy Framework:
These programs help grain farmers with varying degrees of success. Although there are some concerns with each program, AgriStability tops the list with only about 30% of farmers still participating. It is clear that producers have lost confidence in this program and have voted to leave. As a result, if a substantial decline in market revenues or an increase in input costs occurs that is beyond what a farmer can reasonably manage, for most producers, there will be no assistance from the program.
The Calgary Statement from July 2016 laid out the conceptual outline for the Next Agricultural Policy Framework which is to be put in place in 2018. This is the ideal opportunity for industry and government to work together to update the BRM programs to ensure they are better aligned with the needs of the sector. No one has any interest in returning to the days of “ad hoc” programs, but current BRM programs and low participation rates in AgriStability do not provide the security required in the situation of a major market shock. That is why GGC is engaged in finding long term solutions that foster an environment of success for all of agriculture.