Unprecedented disease pressure and the extreme weather BC producers encountered in 2022 have prompted Ottawa to extend the deadline for farmers and ranchers to participate in AgriStability for 2022.
Ranchers and farmers in BC now have until June 30, 2023 to pay their fees and secure coverage under the program funded by the federal and provincial governments.
The program provides support to growers facing declines greater than 30% in their reference margin (net income) as a result of production losses, disease, rising input costs or poor market conditions.
While the press release announcing the extension cited avian influenza and “abnormally cold temperatures” in 2022 as driving the decision, many producers were squeezed by the factors pushing down overall net incomes.
AgriStability typically enrolls approximately 2,100 producers in BC annually, according to the BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food, or about 13% of the province’s farms.
But the paperwork can be burdensome.
This has resulted in moves to revamp the program to make it easier for producers to apply.
Speaking at the BC Potato and Vegetable Growers Association meeting earlier this month, association president Bill Zylmans told growers that “huge changes” are in the works that will see applications linked to income tax returns.
“This has been quite problematic for industry to deal with the paperwork and it’s taken a long time to get some results,” Zylmans says.
Part of the problem lies in the sheer number of commodities produced in BC. While some provinces have just a few main commodities, the breadth of production in BC makes the program a challenge to administer.
This is where income tax returns can assist, by allowing the program to work with readily available financial information for each farm.
“Tying it to your tax paperwork is probably a step forward,” Zylmans says.