Alberta offers new options for insuring pasture production against drought

(Debra Murphy/RealAgriculture)

Western Canadian farmers and ranchers have endured several years of drought over the last five seasons. While AgriRecovery and other national drought programming has been triggered in all the Prairie Provinces, there are other provincial insurance products available.

Both Saskatchewan and Alberta have modified moisture deficiency insurance products in the last two years, with Alberta changing several aspects of its Moisture Deficiency Insurance to better match actual conditions and get payouts to farmer faster.

Stuart Chutter, senior policy analyst with Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), says the insurance is often called pasture insurance, and that it’s not based on actual production, but instead is calculated using several factors, including precipitation and temperature.

That’s one of the changes that took effect in 2023 — where not just minimum precipitation, but also extreme heat is factored in. The result in the change triggered a pay out of $326 million to Alberta’s pasture producers. “That is a significant increase from prior years, and just something tremendous for livestock producers and grazers across the province,” Chutter says.

On average, the Moisture Deficiency Insurance program paid over $500 per cow, compared to the AgriRecovery payout of $150. The money was also delivered to ranchers sooner.

That’s because another update includes payouts happening during the growing season, Chutter says. “Instead of waiting until fall, for a potential AgriRecovery response, those producers were getting cheques in June and July, dependent on their local weather station data,” he says.

Earlier payouts mean that farmers and ranchers can make feed purchases and feed decisions far earlier in the year, securing feed when supplies aren’t quite so stretched.

Chutter says that there’s also opportunities for farmers and ranchers to choose several weather stations to best match the layout of their pastures. The deadline to enrol is February 29. Farmers can find more information on AFSC’s website.

 

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