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Insurance claims spike as Manitoba farmers pummelled by recent hail storms

Manitoba has been pummelled by recent severe thunderstorms that have rained down hail. For some, these storms are wiping out their livelihood.

Nicolas Cheslock says his family farm, about 30 minutes north of Winnipeg, has been hit by two severe storms this summer.

“After that last one went through, I’m pretty sure I lost seven years off my life just stressing about it,” he says.

Between the two storms, which brought hail ranging from the size of quarters to chunks of ice large enough to fit in your palm, the farm has taken a hit.

He said the hail has wiped out 10 per cent to 30 per cent of his crops overall. Still, he says it could have been much worse.

“This last storm we were kind of lucky,” he said. “South of Selkirk, that Lower Fort Gary area, they had like tennis balls coming down. It was bad. I talked to some of the farmers there and they were just devastated.”

Manitoba has seen a jump in hail storms this year.

Environment and Climate Change Canada said there have been 89 severe hail events in the province since the start of May. That’s more than double the typical yearly average of 43 severe hail events – based on 30 years of data.

“It’s been a pretty, pretty busy year,” said Natalie Hassell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Not only has Manitoba seen more hail events, it has also seen larger hail.

Hassell said it remains to be seen if this is just a blip or the beginning of a trend.

“Some years are more active than others. It’s mainly coincidence,” she told CTV News.

For Cheslock, the saving grace has been the hail insurance he took out.

“It’s not going to pay the bills, it’s there to try and cover and make up some of the loss,” he said. ” You’d much rather have a crop, the crop is way more valuable to put in the bin and sell.”

He’s not alone.

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation has already received 1,466 hail insurance claims – eclipsing the five-year annual average of about 1,280.

Just to give you an idea of how much this is impacting farmers, Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation said it has paid out an average of more than $12,667 per claim so far this year.

Cheslock said while the insurance will help cover some of the loss – he would much rather have a healthy crop to put in the bin.

“You put all that energy and time and money into the ground every spring and you just absolutely hate to see it get destroyed by mother nature, because you just worked so hard for it.”

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