Prairie Post (West Edition)
Government of Canada increases total AgriRecovery funding to up to $500 million to support farmers facing extreme weather
On Aug. 15, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced that the Government of Canada has increased total AgriRecovery funding to up to $500 million to address extraordinary costs faced by producers due to drought and wildfires. This includes initial funding of $100 million announced on August 6.
Given the extraordinary circumstances that farmers in Western Canada and parts of Ontario are facing, this increased funding ensures the federal government is ready to contribute to eligible provincial AgriRecovery costs on the 60-40 cost-shared basis outlined under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
The Government of Canada and the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario continue to work with the utmost urgency to complete joint assessments of the disaster and launch support programs. This will include direct assistance to affected livestock and agricultural producers, and help them with added costs of obtaining livestock feed, transportation and water.
Producers can also apply for interim payments under AgriStability to help them cope with immediate financial challenges. The Government of Canada and the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have agreed to increase the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50% to 75%, so producers can access a greater portion of their benefit early to meet their urgent needs. British Columbia and Manitoba have also opened up late participation in AgriStability to farmers who did not register in 2021 so they can benefit from this important income support.
In addition to this support, the Government of Canada announced designations for Livestock Tax Deferral on July 22, 2021, and August 6, 2021, for prescribed drought regions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. This will allow beef producers who are forced to sell a significant amount of their breeding herd due to drought conditions to offset the resulting revenues with the costs to replace the herd.
The Government of Canada continues to stand with farm families during this difficult time and is taking concrete action to respond.
"Our Government is doing everything it can to support farm families so they can get through these challenges today, and be better positioned for a sustainable future. Today's commitment of up to half a billion dollars shows we stand ready to contribute our share toward AgriRecovery programs with the provinces. We are united in our goal of ensuring that farmers are fully supported through this crisis,” explained Bibeau.
• To date, the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have announced provincial commitments under the AgriRecovery Framework totaling up to $322 million.
Alberta has announced a commitment of $136 million. Saskatchewan has announced a commitment of $119 million.
Manitoba has announced a commitment of $62 million. Ontario has announced a commitment of $5 million. An AgriRecovery assessment for British Columbia is underway, but details of its provincial funding commitment have not yet been announced. • Using the 60-40 cost-shared basis, as outlined under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the federal share would be up to $482.5 million, not including British Columbia's planned program. The final federal funding amounts will be for eligible extraordinary costs and will be determined once the joint assessments and program developments are completed. As the situation continues to evolve, the Government of Canada stands ready to take additional action as necessary to ensure farmers have the support they need. Producers have access to a suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help them manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.
AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial-territorial disaster relief framework intended to work together with the core BRM programs to help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters. AgriRecovery helps with the extraordinary costs associated with recovering from disaster events.
AgriStability is one of the BRM programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. It protects Canadian producers against large declines in farming income for reasons such as production loss, increased costs and market conditions. While the deadline to enroll for the 2021 program year has passed, provinces may request late participation to make the program available to other producers during a crisis situation.
An interim payment under AgriStability is based on estimates of a participant's program year production margin and reference margin. To receive an interim payment, the participant's estimated production margin must decline by more than 30% of their estimated reference margin. Participants can apply for an interim payment to access program funds early. Bibeau continues to urge provinces to accept the Government of Canada's offer to raise the AgriStability compensation rate from 70% to 80%. This would provide farmers across the country an additional $75 million per year, benefitting distressed farmers who need help now more than ever.
During a crisis such as this, farmers facing the stress and uncertainty of providing for their families may suffer serious mental health impacts. Those needing help are encouraged to reach out for support, and can contact The Do More Ag Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focusing on mental health in agriculture across Canada.