Risk man­age­ment

Ot­tawa in­vests over $300,000 to as­sess po­ten­tial prob­lems fac­ing Is­land farm­ers

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY JIM DAY jim.day@the­guardian.pe.ca

Cardi­gan MP Lawrence Ma­cAulay knows farm­ing is risky busi­ness.

Weather, he notes by way of ex­am­ple, is in­creas­ingly pack­ing a po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing punch.

“We used to al­ways get two to four inches of rain,’’ says Ma­cAulay, the fed­eral min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture and Agri­food.

“Now we get a foot.’’ David Mol, pres­i­dent of the P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture, is also con­cerned with what cli­mate change has in store for Is­land farm­ers.

“All you have to do is turn on the TV and you can see cars float­ing down the streets in other parts of North Amer­ica,’’ says Mol.

“You just have to look at the rest of the world, and by good­ness we are dodg­ing bul­lets left and right here.’’

Dodg­ing risks is not all about good for­tune, how­ever.

Timely and ef­fec­tive re­sponse to po­ten­tial or pend­ing prob­lems fac­ing farm­ers is key to sus­tain­abil­ity and pros­per­ity.

“There are just so many things you can do to pre­vent harm to crops,’’ says Ma­cAulay.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced Fri­day a $300,500 in­vest­ment (the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is chip­ping in an ad­di­tional $10,000) for the P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture (PEIFA) to un­der­take a risk as­sess­ment of agri­cul­ture in the prov­ince.

The as­sess­ment will in­clude three fo­cus groups,

from across P.E.I., dis­cussing and rank­ing var­i­ous risks as­so­ci­ated with agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion for a range of com­modi­ties.

“There are so many things that we have to deal with that we didn’t have to deal with years ago along with some of the things we had to deal with years ago,’’ says Ma­cAulay.

“What we want to do is make sure that the agri­cul­ture sec­tor in gen­eral is aware of what needs to be done in or­der to make sure that we pro­duce more prod­uct on the same amount of land.’’

Mol wel­comes the op­por­tu­nity for the PEIFA to part­ner with gov­ern­ments to get farm­ers to sit around a ta­ble and bare their souls.

“There’s pes­simism, there’s re­al­ism and there’s op­ti­mism and we know that pes­simism doesn’t get us any­where,’’ he says.

“So we need a mix­ture of re­al­ity mixed with op­ti­mism.’’

Mol would like to see risk to farm­ers spread out over a longer pe­riod, es­pe­cially with the de­crease in mixed farms.

“Mixed farms is the old way

“There’s pes­simism, there’s re­al­ism and there’s op­ti­mism and we know that pes­simism doesn’t get us any­where. So we need a mix­ture of re­al­ity mixed with op­ti­mism.’’ David Mol

of mit­i­gat­ing risk,’’ he ex­plains.

“If the potato crop was no good price­wise, the grain crop prob­a­bly was okay or pigs were okay and the beef weren’t. But to­day where farms only have one, maybe two, the odd time three, dif­fer­ent com­modi­ties that their mar­ket­ing, the risk isn’t spread out.’’

The fund­ing to PEIFA is be­ing made through Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriRisk Ini­tia­tives (ARI), which sup­ports the re­search and de­vel­op­ment as well as the im­ple­men­ta­tion and ad­min­is­tra­tion of new risk man­age­ment tools for use in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN

P.E.I. Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture pres­i­dent David Mol, left, Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Min­is­ter Lawrence Ma­cAulay, cen­tre, and Malpeque MP Wayne Easter look over a soy­bean plant at the Harrington Re­search Farm. The trio was on hand Fri­day as Ma­cAulay an­nounced $300,500 in fed­eral fund­ing for a risk as­sess­ment of agri­cul­ture on the is­land.

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