Sask. crop insurance’s kabuli price criticized


Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp.’s kabuli chickpea base price is way off base, says an agriculture consultant and commentator.

Kevin Hursh said 23 cents per pound for large kabulis is too low.

“I just don’t know where they’re getting their kabuli chickpea price forecast from,” he said.

Jeff Morrow, acting president of SCIC, said the price forecast comes from Agriculture Canada. It supplies forecasts for all the crops to all the Prairie provincial crop insurance agencies in January.

The forecasts are for the Aug. 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022 period. The chickpea price is 20 percent higher than it was last year.

Hursh said it is still out-of-whack considering he has seen recent new crop bids of 33 cents per lb., which is 43 percent higher than the SCIC base price.

“I realize these (forecasts) were made back in January but I’m not aware of any chickpeas that sold that cheap then or even new crop,” he said.

“In other crops when they are off base you can solve this by going with the Contract Price Option but for kabuli chickpeas it’s not an option they allow.”

The Contract Price Option allows growers to insure a crop at the price at which it is contracted. It is an option for many crops including wheat, canola, durum, barley, oats, peas, lentils, flax, mustard, canaryseed and alfalfa.

Morrow said chickpeas are still considered to be a new crop and do not have all the options of more established crops. But SCIC is willing to contemplate expanding the Contract Price Option to include chickpeas.

“If there are opportunities to make the program better then we’re definitely open to do that,” he said.

In the meantime, he encourages chickpea growers to consider the In-Season Price Option, which uses a six-month average of actual selling prices between Sept. 1, 2021 and Feb. 28, 2022.

Growers have until March 31, 2021, to make changes to their crop insurance coverage.

Hursh said the poor base price and the inability to choose a Contract Price Option forced him to take a different tactic when planting this year’s crop of kabulis.

He plans to intercrop them with canaryseed in an effort to control disease pressure in his kabulis.

Hursh will then use the SCIC’s Diversification Option, a policy that covers his chickpeas based on the average premium and payouts for the other insured crops he is growing.

He noted that crop insurance can be complicated and thinks SCIC should be doing more to communicate and explain the various options and wrinkles to farmers. But the onus is on growers as well.

“Frankly, I don’t think producers spend enough time understanding the nuances of how their crop insurance works,” said Hursh.