by KAREN BRIGGS
Rebounding from an all-time low of 5,900 growers enrolled in 2010, Ontario’s Risk Management Program had 8,613 grain and oilseed farmers opt in for 2011.
“2010 was an extension year and not everyone was eligible to participate,” said Stephanie Charest, Agricorp Communications Consultant, “so the numbers were what we expected.
“The numbers for 2011 are pretty much in line with the launch of the program.”
More than 12,000 grain and oilseed farmers signed up for the pilot version of the RMP in 2007, but perceived flaws in the program bred increasing dissatisfaction among growers.
Strong commodities prices have also affected producers’ perceived need for the program.
RMP is similar to an insurance policy, in which farmers pay premiums for coverage to protect them from uncontrollable factors. Ontario’s RMP provides coverage for commodity price volatility or collapse, input cost increases and currency fluctuations. Claims are triggered only if the market price for a commodity falls below the provincial average cost of production.
Agricorp administers the RMP program as well as AgriStability, which is designed to protect producers from large declines in their farming income due to market conditions, production loss, or increased costs of production. AgriStability is cost-shared between the federal and provincial governments; currently only the provincial government backs the RMP. Efforts to obtain the federal government's financial support have been unsuccessful.
Premiums for the RMP were waived in 2011, with all participants enrolled at the 100 per cent coverage level. According to Agricorp’s website, in 2012, the program will undergo significant changes, requiring enrolment in AgriStability (previously optional) and limiting a grower’s ability to switch commodity categories. (Editor's note. This story has been revised.) BF