Reference margin limit removed from AgriStability


The provinces and Ottawa have finally agreed to partial changes to AgriStability.

During a federal-provincial-territorial meeting March 25, they agreed to remove the reference margin limit from the program, retroactively for 2020 and continuing through to March 31, 2023.

However, none of the prairie provinces was willing to also pay the cost of increasing the compensation rate from 70 percent to 80 percent, so that proposal will not go ahead.

The deadline to enrol in the program has been extended to June 30 so that producers have a chance to take the change into account in their risk management planning.

The Canadian Pork Council said the meeting outcome was disappointing.

“We know AgriStability negotiations are not easy, but removing the reference margin limit does very little for pork producers,” said chair Rick Bergmann.

“We expected that, in these difficult times, the prairie provincial ministers would have considered the challenges faced by pork producers.”

Manitoba agriculture minister Blaine Pedersen said COVID-19 costs have affected his province’s budget to the tune of $2 billion, and money is tight.

Eliminating the RML represents the bigger cost of the two changes that were considered. In Saskatchewan, agriculture minister David Marit said it will cost about $20 million more per year, compared to about $10 million that changing the compensation rate would cost. However, producers considered the RML, introduced in 2013, the bigger problem.

Marit said $10 million might not sound like much when considering the cost, but on a per capita basis it is far more than Ontario, for example, would spend.

The cattle sector said it was “encouraged” by the results of the meeting.

“Removing the RML will go a long way in making AgriStability more predictable and equitable for our industry,” said the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.