Federal Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay and Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit announced enhancements to the 2019 Crop Insurance Program. Once again, Saskatchewan producers can access the highest coverage in program history as the Crop Insurance Program evolves and continues to adapt to the changing agricultural landscape in the province.
“Insurance-based programs help to ensure farmers have the tools they need to maintain and grow their business,” said MacAulay. “Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, our government is working closely with provinces and territories to ensure we have business risk management programs that meet the needs of farmers.”
“By investing in sound risk management programming, we are providing a foundation for our agriculture industry to grow,” Marit said. “We want farmers to be innovative, make sound business decisions, and propel the industry forward as agriculture continues to be a major driver of our provincial economy.”
On average, Crop Insurance coverage levels are increasing to a record $230 per acre, up from $216 per acre in 2018. The average coverage remains strong due to the success of Saskatchewan producers’ ongoing improvements in crop production with an increase in overall yields. Premiums have remained relatively steady, with the premium per acre only slightly increasing to an average of $8.61 per acre, up from $8.41 in 2018.
Producers faced ongoing challenges throughout the 2018 growing season. Excess moisture delayed seeding, dry conditions and localized flooding challenged summer growing, and early frost and snowfall delayed harvest. Compensation for producers is estimated to reach $300 million in claims.
Despite the challenging growing season, there continues to be a strong balance of funds allowing the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) to keep premiums low for producers. There are a number of enhancements for the Crop Insurance Program in 2019.
SCIC continues to work with industry to ensure its programs are meeting the needs of producers and advancements in agriculture. SCIC understands no two farms are the same, which is why Crop Insurance offers coverage based on a producer’s own yields rather than the average of their area. A producer’s insurance package can be custom-fit through a huge selection of price options, coverage levels and other program features to meet their own risk management needs.
“When the grass and hay doesn’t grow, when the weather doesn’t co-operate or when animals are lost to predators, farmers and ranchers need insurance programs to help them replace the feed and livestock they are expecting to have,” Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association District 5 Director Levi Hull said. “These programs help producers address those uncontrollable risks and provides some management tools. Combine these programs with the price assurance of WLPIP and we are confident there is a full suite of insurance options available.”
Since 2015, SCIC has engaged with producers and the agriculture industry. They identified insured values for grazing acres as a main priority, indicating coverage needs to more accurately represent the cost of replacing lost grazing production.For 2019, insured values on tame and native grazing are significantly increasing to better reflect the losses producers experience during a shortfall in forage production. Another enhancement for forage and grain corn producers includes the introduction of the Corn Rainfall Program.
This program provides coverage against lack of moisture for corn acres. Claims are triggered when precipitation is below 80 per cent of the long-term average at any of the weather stations across the province. Corn acres grown for grain, grazing or silage are now eligible for protection through this new Corn Rainfall Program and the Corn Heat Unit Program. Also new for 2019, both programs will provide an establishment benefit of $90 per acre on corn crops that fail to adequately establish or suffer damage before June 20.
“We appreciate the enhancements announced today to make forage insurance coverage more reflective of local precipitation conditions and forage production capacity,” Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association Zone 1 Chair Henry McCarthy said. “These enhancements are a positive step in enabling producers to better manage their forage production risks.”
This year, 55 new weather stations will be added throughout the province to increase SCIC’s weather data network and to ensure the weather information captured is more reflective of the farms it represents. Producers have more options to select a representative weather station for their pastureland, through the Forage Rainfall Insurance Program. A larger selection of weather station options for corn acres is available through the Corn Rainfall Program and/or the Corn Heat Unit Program. Almost all agricultural land in Saskatchewan will be within 30 kilometres of an eligible weather station.
“SARM is pleased with the enhancements SCIC has announced to the suite of Crop Insurance Programs,” SARM Division 4 Director Harvey Malanowich said. “We’ve been seeking many of the changes and have been active in the Forage Insurance working group. We believe the addition of over 50 weather stations will enhance the Forage Rainfall Insurance and the new Corn Rainfall Programs and will equip farmers and ranchers in Saskatchewan to best inform their business decisions.”
SCIC also works closely with the Winter Cereal Development Commission. Understanding the challenges fall weather conditions can have on seeding winter cereal crops, SCIC extended the fall seeding deadline to September 30. This provides producers an additional 15 days to be eligible for winterkill insurance when seeding fall rye and winter wheat. March 31, 2019, is the deadline for producers to apply or make changes to their Crop Insurance contract.