Alberta crop insurance program adjusted to let farmers harvest early for livestock feed

Alberta government officials are working with their counterparts in Ottawa to make changes to the crop insurance program to help farmers cope with the hot, dry conditions that have been devastating operations across the province. 

The low-yield threshold will be doubled to allow farmers to put more poor-quality crops toward livestock feed, helping ease feed shortages for livestock during the drought, the province said in a release Friday. 

“We’ve heard industry’s call for help, and this change will help farmers and ensure some good can come out of these crops,” said Alberta Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen.

The province says the adjustment encourages producers to quickly salvage crops for livestock feed rather than watch their fields deteriorate further, and risk having nothing at all to harvest.

“We recognize that this year’s conditions have had a significant impact on our producers — and we’ve been here to listen, take feedback, and mobilize our teams as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Darryl Kay, CEO of the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, which operates the crop insurance program.

The province says it has advised crop adjusters to be flexible and complete early assessments with affected crop and hay land.

The dry conditions throughout southern Alberta have already prompted some counties to declare local states of agricultural disaster.

“A lack of moisture and all sorts of other conditions have kind of pushed us to the point that we declared agriculture a state of disaster here,” said Vulcan County Reeve Jason Schneider.

He wants the provincial government to declare a province-wide state of disaster so that a wider range of assistance can be made available.

“We’re kind of hoping that maybe the province is able to come up with a few programs to help some of these guys  weather this storm,” said Schneider.

Last week, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario were promised by the federal government that a joint AgriRecovery program will be created to support producers affected by drought conditions prior to a federal election. 

The province says its decision to cut premiums for crop, pasture and forage insurance earlier this year boosted enrolment by almost 400 farmers and ranchers.

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