Reference margin limit removal a win, Alberta minister says

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

The most recent meeting of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) ag leaders came to a conclusion Thursday without a consensus on Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) Marie-Claude Bibeau’s proposed AgriStability changes.

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, says that the conclusion of the FPT meetings was a good deal for farmers, but the Province of Alberta was definitely hoping for more.

“What was really frustrating for a lot of provinces was the federal government indicated that there was $170 million ready to go out to the pockets of the farmers with the proposed AgriStability changes. And we called weeks ago to actually have an FPT meeting where you could have a vote, where you could make this negotiation and actually get a deal out of it. It was frustrating to see that after a vote of the majority of the participating provinces, and also a majority of the agriculture production across the country, that the federal government chose to take $75 million dollars off the table, and not fund the compensation increase,” Dreeshen explains. “So that $170 evaporated right down to $95 million, which I think would’ve been a better deal for farmers.”

It should be noted that the federal proposal hinged on two of three Prairie provinces agreeing to the compensation increase from 70 per cent to 80 per cent, but none of the three committed to the deal (and funds required).

Although there was a great deal of frustration, Dreeshen says it was not all a loss. The main win was the reference margin limit (RML) removal, making it more of an affordable program.

“Of the RML there was the retroactivity of people going back last year and also the extension of the deadline,” Dreeshen says. “We are just at the beginning of business risk management (BRM) changes. But I think now it won’t be within the 5 year Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) agreement, it will be what gets negotiated going out, and that starts in 2023. We’ve already commissioned work and created a report that has listed all the flaws of AgriStabillity to bring forward.”

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

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