by SUSAN MANN
Farm leaders are waiting to get more details on enrolment in Ontario’s new Risk Management Program for livestock after Agricorp released figures showing 4,072 farm operations signed up.
Agricorp spokesperson Stephanie Charest says the enrolment number includes beef, pork, veal and sheep operations. Those businesses had to sign up by Oct. 14. The corporation doesn’t yet have a breakdown on what percentage of production the number represents but it will eventually have that information.
Charest says the enrolment number reflects farm businesses and not producers. For example, partnerships only submit one application “so you could have multiple producers in one partnership.”
Agricorp delivers the program for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
LeaAnne Hodgins, Ontario Cattlemen’s Association communications manager, says they’re satisfied with the number of applications for the livestock program. While the association is happy with the results it has seen so far, it’s waiting to see what percentage of production was signed up.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture president Mark Wales says at the Agricultural Commodity Council meeting on Monday they’ll get a preliminary report on sign up numbers for the edible horticulture Self-Directed Risk Management program. But they won’t know the final numbers until after Feb. 1, 2012, which is the date farmers have to officially submit their deposit notices.
Wales is also hoping at the council meeting they’ll be given the livestock production percentage that was enrolled and what percentage of producers signed up for the livestock programs. “We’ll take some time and analyze those numbers,” he notes. “Until you can put those numbers on the table you’re not comparing apples to apples.”
Wales says unlike the other programs, which had a tight sign up deadline, the horticulture self-directed risk management program was designed with a much later deadline due to tax and accounting reasons.
Once a farmer opens an account, the moment the government puts in its matching money those funds are taxable, Wales explains. It’s only the government portion that’s taxable because the farmer’s contribution in the second and subsequent years of the program is personal, after-tax dollars.
The program was designed to allow people with Dec. 31 year ends to decide which year they wanted to make their matching deposit in.
For this year, horticulture participants aren’t required to make a deposit but must complete and return a deposit request to begin withdrawing funds this year. Participants had to submit the necessary forms by Oct. 31.
As for receiving their participant packages, Charest says Agricorp sent self-directed risk management participant packages to all producers whose tax data it has received from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, which gets it from the Canada Revenue Agency.
But it’s not unusual for Agricorp to receive tax data from the government agencies at different times throughout the year because farmers have various year-ends. The corporation has been told it will be getting all of the data by Dec. 31 so all eligible producers will get their participant package by the Feb. 1, 2012 deadline, she says.
Wales says the limit for the farmers’ deposit is two per cent of their allowable net sales. The provincial government’s matching contribution is what a farmer can withdraw in the first year. That’s similar to the livestock and grains programs that don’t require farmers to pay a premium in the first year.
In the second year, horticultural growers have to make a matching deposit and decide whether to withdraw any or all of it. Also in the second year of the program, horticultural farmers must have their premises identification number to continue participating.
Wales says he has already obtained his by doing it online and found it to be an easy process. “It took me five minutes online and I was all done.” BF