by Don Stoneman
OTTAWA -- "Call it a gift card to be cashed in now," or later.
Farmers can expect to get a federal letter in the mail in the week after Christmas. By responding to the letter a farmer is requesting a share of the $600 million that the federal government has put forward in its AgriInvest program.
Ontario producers will likely get about 21 per cent of the $600 million, says Danny Foster, director general of business risk management program development at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Prairie producers' share will be about half and those in Quebec about 15 per cent.
Farmers will only get a letter if they applied for a cost of production assistance offered last spring.
For those who didn't take part in the cost of production assistance program and therefore didn't receive a letter, there's no cause to worry: officials assure you can still get a share of AgriInvest. Application forms are available from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada website or by calling toll-free 1-866-367-8506.
AgriInvest is part of a "suite" of farm stabilization programs that replace the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program.
The suite and the allocation to AgriInvest were the subjects of a telephone press conference on Friday Dec. 21.
According to Foster:
- AgriInvest covers margin declines of 15 per cent and less; these were previously covered under CAIS.
- AgriStability helps producers with margin declines larger than 15 per cent.
- AgriInsurance is crop insurance for farmers which has been expanded to cover more commodities, including livestock.
- AgriRecovery is a disaster relief program aiming to quickly help producers cope with disasters that are regional in scope and don't affect an entire sector.
Foster says producers were widely consulted during the development of these programs. They don't have to make a matching deposit.
So what's there for producers taking part in the first AgriInvest payout?
Foster says producer eligibility is based upon 2.63 per cent of annual net sales, as calculated on an average of sales 2000-2004 inclusive.
Farmers can expect to get an initial $2,630 on allowable net sales of $100,000, plus a final payment later when the feds know how many producers will be involved. Foster said a producer with $1 million in allowable net sales will get about $30,000.
For those who have received a letter but don't apply right away for the money, the portion assigned to them stays in their account.
The federal government is committed to developing production insurance plans for the livestock industry, Foster says, but they aren't ready yet. Pilots for livestock are being conducted in Manitoba and for poultry in Nova Scotia.
As well, Quebec is close to putting a program in place for hogs, Foster says. BF