Hello, and thank you for inviting me to participate in the committee meeting today.
My name is Justin Jenner, and I am a third-generation farmer in western Manitoba, located north of the city of Brandon. I have been farming since I graduated from university in 2002, and I will call myself a young farmer today, as I won't have many more opportunities to do so.
I have been involved in farm policy for many years, mostly with Keystone Agricultural Producers, the main farm lobby organization in Manitoba. I am the former vice-president and chair of the young farmers committee, and currently sit on the board of and chair the business risk management committee. In my time serving with KAP, I have seen many instances where current BRM programming is not adequate or not serving its intended purpose.
My parents are still involved in the farm, and I've learned many valuable lessons from them, the most important of which is to pay close attention to the economics of the farm and find ways to reduce risk.
We have an integrated farm with cash crops, forages and beef cattle. We have felt that by having multiple enterprises on the farm, we would be better able to mitigate the risk of disasters on the farm. I have seen, through the years, that when one commodity is not profitable, then another will be and the farm can continue. We were able to weather the storm during BSE and continue operating in the face of severe weather and depressed prices in crops. Growing our own feed for our cattle, for instance, has stabilized our feed costs and ensured our feed supply.
We are strong believers in risk mitigation, and we feel that the AgriInsurance program is the best tool we have to control risk in the crops we grow. Insurance is a large cost on our farm, but it is important. The program, as it is administered in Manitoba, is not perfect, but is willing to change and adapt to new systems. It is sometimes more difficult to get producers to subscribe to new and different programs.
However, our farm's integrated approach has led to a problem with other BRM programs, particularly AgriStability. We would be far better off buying all of our feed from a third party, even at high prices, in order to increase the line item for expenses. This is where the reference margin limit is discouraging farms like ours from making investments in self-risk mitigation. Ignoring the risk mitigation that we have undertaken leads us to being at a competitive disadvantage to operations that specialize and have wild swings in income and costs, which are more likely to trigger payment in bad years and have very high profits in good years.
AgriInvest has also been—