My name is Mark Brock and I'm the producer co-chair for the National Program Advisory Committee. I farm just outside of Hensall, Ontario, with my wife Sandi. We have a grain and oilseed operation and we also have sheep. I've had extensive industry involvement, but right now I'm just a farmer doing some stuff and some work with BRMs on the National Program Advisory Committee.
I'm not sure how well informed this committee is about it, but that committee is made up of two individuals from every province and territory who meet twice a year to discuss issues around business risk management programs. We talk a lot about AgriStability. We talk a lot about AgriInvest, AgriInsurance and AgriRecovery, but lately a lot of the time has been spent on AgriStability in highlighting some of the issues that Markus highlighted in his presentation.
My apologies to the interpreters, because we're so busy on the farm right now I wasn't able to prepare a statement for them to use, so they're going to have to go as I go. My apologies for that, but I didn't want to miss an opportunity to present to the committee, because I think the business risk management programming is a very important component of a larger issue that I want to talk about, and I'll get to that.
My involvement with business risk management programs started way back in 2018 out of an FPT meeting of agriculture ministers when they decided, under industry pressure from different commodities groups, to create an external advisory panel to kind of blue-sky ideas around business risk management programming. That happened when Lawrence MacAulay was the minister of agriculture and agri-food. I was part of that process. I was one of the producers involved in that. There were other industry members as well.
For about 18 months, we kicked around ideas and looked at some issues around business risk management and AgriStability and at some of the issues around producers losing confidence in these programs and why enrolment was so low, along with other issues around that. I did pass on the recommendations that came out of that external advisory panel to your clerk. Hopefully, you can see some of those.
I want to highlight those seven things. What happened in that external advisory panel was that as these ideas came forward, three other members of the external advisory panel and I presented to ministers at an FPT meeting in Vancouver. I can't remember the year, but we provided these recommendations to them and answered any questions the ministers had.
I think it was out of that FPT meeting it was decided the further work of this external group looking at these business risk management programs should really go to NPAC, because that was a formal process which was created through the Canadian agricultural partnership, and the formal area in which provinces, territories and the federal government decided to look at business risk management programming. Those seven recommendations went to NPAC. I'm going to read out the seven that came out of the external advisory panel.
The first one is to develop and evaluate risk management tools that cover gaps in the current business risk management suite of programs. That was even to the point of looking at how government assists or facilitates producer-paid options or even producer-paid top-up programs. As Markus highlighted, I think, in some of the risks within the world that we operate in as farmers in agriculture we are willing to participate in some of these tools, but the tools need to be created and there needs to be some assistance, I believe, from government to help facilitate some of those creations.
Number two is to explore approaches to address the lack of confidence in the core business risk management program, which is AgriStability, including its complexity, timeliness and predictability challenges. I think that's a lot of the uncertainty we see right now within the current agricultural community now that we're in this COVID-19 world. It's just the unpredictability of it and trying to assess how we manage our risks. It's hard to calculate some of those opportunities to protect against risks on farms due to some of the challenges with the program design of AgriStability.
Number three is to examine approaches to improve program equality.
Number four is that AgriInvest should be maintained until some better options might be available in the future.
Number five is to modernize premium setting for AgriInsurance. If there are opportunities to do a better job pricing it, then we should look at that.
Number six, there is a role in trying to educate producers more around managing risk.
Number seven is that this work should continue.
That leads into my involvement with NPAC. NPAC is a great group of producers. As I said, two from every province and territory are looking at some of our challenges. We meet twice a year. This year our March meeting was disrupted by COVID-19, and rightly so. We're living off the work we did in December.
We sent a letter to ministers at their FPT meeting on, I believe, December 13, 2019, on behalf of the producer members of the National Program Advisory Committee. It explains how tough the current situation was for farmers, and the impacts we're seeing around all industries, whether it's grain, oilseeds or livestock. At that time we were seeing African swine fever as an issue, and disclosing some of the challenges with China and market access, and how it was impacting farmers' mental health. I think all the members on that committee agreed that the suite wasn't meeting the needs of farmers. It's not responding to some of the challenges we're seeing. I think those challenges are highlighted even more now with COVID-19.