With AgriInvest, in the past, groups have called for an increase in matchable deposits to 3% and to allow up to 2% additional non-matchable, tax-deductible contributions. I believe this could be a positive change that would benefit a variety of producers, if implemented.
The AgriRisk Initiatives program isn’t directly applicable to my farm, but after researching the program, I am pleased to learn that the initiative has been taken to invest in and explore the development of new risk management tools.
After 2019, I feel AgriRecovery and AgriStability need some serious updates or a redesign.
I wanted to take the time today to talk about the 2019 harvest, and how it helped shape my views on AgriRecovery and AgriStability.
The 2019 growing season on our farm was fantastic, up until September. Torrential downpours followed by cool, wet weather delayed and dragged out our harvest. On our farm, we typically are finished with all our cereals by mid-September or the end of September, and with our canola shortly thereafter. This was not the case in 2019.
Historically, we harvest together with a neighbouring farm of the same size and share resources such as labour, equipment and storage. This is done to increase efficiency in both of our operations and ensure that the harvest is finished as quickly and effectively as possible.
Even with additional labour and resources, we were extremely behind schedule come the weekend of October 11. What happened that weekend was felt by many farmers in Manitoba and across the Canadian prairies. A severe winter storm hit, bringing freezing rain, sleet and upwards of two feet of snow across the prairies and on my family’s farm. After this storm, a state of emergency was declared in the province of Manitoba to help with the cleanup and restoration of power. Before this storm hit, my family and many other farm families in my area were struggling with an abundance of crop left out in the fields. Receiving upwards of two feet of snow, sleet and freezing rain made the harvest from hell that much harder.
Farmers are known for their resilience and willingness to get the job done. In the end, we did just that; however, it was not without unplanned costs or consequences. Bushels of crop were left on the ground or out in the fields. Due to wet weather, soybeans shelled out and we were unable to harvest the pods lowest to the ground over our whole farm. Subsequently, we purchased additional aeration fans, rented and installed tracks on our combine, utilized a natural gas dryer to dry tough grain, spent many extra hours fixing and troubleshooting problems on our machines, used heaters and propane torches to dry out and thaw our equipment, and also rented an additional combine to help finish.
Preliminary estimates by my father and me have approximated this cost at $30 per acre, or close to $90,000. These costs will continue to be felt as we are seeing the events of 2019 carry on into 2020. Extra tillage was needed this spring to fill in ruts left by last year’s harvest, as well as to work crop left in the field. Acres of land were rendered unseedable and became incapable of being travelled on. Extra turning and overlap of seed, fertilizer and crop protection will see these costs carry over into 2020.
With the kindness and help of neighbours, we were able to harvest most of our crop; however, this was not the case for many.
In my opinion, moving forward, our BRM programs need to speak to and account for all types of farming operations, and not paint us all with the same brush. This can be achieved by having genuine and transparent conversations and consultations with producer groups Canada-wide.
BRM programming is something that needs to be easily communicated. I myself struggle to wrap my head around the program some of the time, and I see that as a major issue. How do we expect farmers and the next generation such as me to enrol in these programs if they don’t understand them?
Minister Bibeau's mandate letter states that she must “[h]elp producers manage environmental and business risks by providing faster and better-adapted support.” I cannot stress enough the importance and the timeliness of this. We will survive 2019, but real and proactive changes need to be implemented.
Agriculture is my passion, and I love what I do. It is my dream to farm and continue to provide safe, nutritious food for Canada and the world alike. Food security is something that I wish our country continues to have, now and into the future. Agriculture’s potential to contribute and grow our economy is exponential and excites me.
I worry that if we do not act and implement changes to our business risk management suite, agriculture will not reach its potential, and the next generation such as me—