Federal AgriStability proposal “set up to fail,” suggests Alberta agriculture minister

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Alberta’s agriculture minister says his federal counterpart’s proposal to move ahead with changes to AgriStability at the annual agriculture ministers’ meeting was “set up to fail.”

Reforming business risk management, specifically the AgriStability program, was the top item on the agenda heading into the annual federal-provincial-territorial agriculture ministers meeting, which wrapped up with a final virtual session on Friday.

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, joined RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney following the meeting wrap-up to discuss Alberta’s perspective on the meeting, and federal Ag Minister Bibeau’s proposal to remove the reference margin limit and increase the compensation rate under AgriStability from 70 to 80 per cent.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba did not agree to the proposal, which included the condition that the provinces’ cover 40 per cent of the cost under the traditional 60/40 cost share arrangement.

Dreeshen says he was frustrated the federal government waited until the last day of the meeting to bring it up.

“It was a two week meeting, and they could’ve introduced it on day one, and given provinces time to go through their process of going through cabinet, and treasury board, to see if they could get some indication maybe from themselves of whether they could support it or not,” he explains. “Because it was the very last minute, and there was about an hour between when the federal government made the proposal and the discussion, communications, and the final press conference, it was set up to fail. It was made impossible to actually get indications from provincial governments from their cabinet or treasury board.”

That being said, the federal government says its offer still stands, if the provinces choose to sign on. (Any change requires approval from seven out of ten provinces, accounting for 60 per cent of the participants in AgriStability.)

On a positive note, Dreeshen says it was very reassuring to see discussions take place regarding the Canadian Agriculture Partnership (CAP) 2.0.

“It will be designed so it will be equitable among any type of commodity. There’s a commitment of next July to be able to flesh that program out in more detail,” says Dreeshen, adding they are hoping to get sign-off on it by 2022, and operational by 2023. “That was the big huge win I thought on this year’s FPT meeting.”

Check out the full conversation between Minister Dreeshen and RealAgriculture’s Shaun Haney,¬†below:





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