© AgMedia Inc.
by BETTER FARMING STAFF
Canadian contract growers with Pigeon King International who find themselves out of pocket after the sudden collapse of the company in May might find some relief through a national safety net program.
But there are catches, warns Andre Patry, acting manager of program development with Agricorp. In Ontario, Agricorp, a provincial agency, administers the program, called AgriStability, on behalf of the provincial and federal governments.
Patry confirms that the growers are eligible to participate in the program, but points out they must have already enrolled if they plan to file a claim. The closing date for enrolment in 2008 was April 30. Those who participated in the 2007 Canadian Agriculture Income Stabilization (CAIS) program are automatically enrolled in the 2008 program.
Moreover, there’s no guarantee that those who file a claim will end up receiving a benefit. Patry explains that the decision to pay out program benefits is dependent on a farm’s whole operation and not on the performance of single commodities. If farming strictly pigeons, “chances are they will get a benefit,” but if the farm is diversified, higher commodity prices may “overshadow” any financial loss from a pigeon venture, he says.
AgriStability, which replaces CAIS, offers benefits when an operation’s current year’s program margin falls below 85 per cent of its reference margin. The program margin is calculated by subtracting expenses from income. Both the expenses and the income used to calculate the margin must meet AgriStability’s specifications.
Reference margins are calculated by using three of the mid-range program margins drawn from an operation’s previous five years. Patry says for those who first enrolled in the program this year, provincial records would be used to calculate if a benefit would be released. He says he doesn’t know just how that historical knowledge would be calculated for a pigeon breeding market, but promises to look into it.
He notes that producers must pay a program fee and although the deadline has also come and gone for this, they can pay the fee up to December 31 with a penalty. BF