Business

Program provides a safety net to farmers

The weather is always a favourite topic around the East Kootenay, however, farmers and ranchers keep a specially keen eye on what is brewing overhead. A sudden drop in temperature or a freak hail storm can spell certain disaster.

The AgriStability program, administered by the federal and provincial government is designed to provide support to producers when they experience a sudden income loss that is out of their control.

“It’s a margin-based program,” says Bruce Hilder, an AgriStability representative from Oliver, B.C. “It compares your program year - which is your claim year - to an average three out of your previous five years.”

Hilder was in the East Kootenay this week for a series of information sessions. He says the program covers all areas of agricultural production, from tree fruit to cattle. Hilder emphasizes there is an important deadline coming up for interested producers. “They have to let us know that they want to participate by April 30.” Existing AgriStability participants should be receiving their enrollment numbers in the mail shortly.

As the program is based on a margin, calculated from income in the past, new participants have to be prepared to have the necessary information for the last five years. Adjustments can be made, however, if the farm has not been operating for that long.

There is an enrollment fee for AgriStability that is based on the size and income margin of the operation. “Most of the fees are returned to the farmers as payments,” Hilder explains.

“Farmers don’t have the safety net to prevent them from some sort of disaster,” Hilder knows. With an average enrollment fee of $400 in B.C., Hilder believes AgriStability is an effective way of providing some protection.

In previous years, B.C. producers had to send their applications to a central administrative office in Winnipeg. Since 2010, there are B.C. offices and Hilder says communication has been improved greatly.

For more information, farmers and ranchers can visit www.agf.gov.bc.ca/agristability or call 1-877-343-2767 toll-free.

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