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Ottawa, Ontario urge provincial support for agricultural support program

Wednesday, January 20, 2021 @ 1:50 PM | By Ian Burns

Agriculture ministers in Canada and Ontario are urging their counterparts to back proposed changes to a program which gives income support to Canadian farmers.

The AgriStability program protects Canadian producers against large declines in farming income for reasons such as production loss, increased costs and market conditions. Farmers can receive a payment if their production margin in the current year falls below their historical reference margin, which is an average of recent annual income, by more than 30 per cent.

And now provinces and territories are considering an offer to improve AgriStability, which includes the removal of the reference margin limit as well as an increase of the compensation rate to 80 per cent of the reference margin over the current 70 per cent. This would amount to an additional $170 million per year in direct support to farmers to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau and her Ontario counterpart Ernie Hardeman, who are co-chairing federal-provincial-territorial agricultural ministerial meetings, said they are urging all governments to support the proposals. In order for the changes to be put in place, the support of a large majority of provinces and territories is required.

“While the proposed changes to AgriStability may not be the perfect solution for all farmers or governments, they reflect a good start to achieving a national consensus and allow Canada’s agriculture ministers to continue discussing enhancements to the program while still improving supports for farmers today,” the ministers said in the statement. “Farmers have shown their resiliency during COVID-19; however many could still use the added help that these short-term changes could provide. We have an opportunity to act now, to offer them increased support. It’s time to get it done.”

More information about the AgriStability program can be found here.

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