Business Risk Management Programs Still Aren't Fixed
Shannon Stubbs wrote Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, highlighting again the inaction to fix Business Risk Management programs and following-up on her letter in January:
Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
1341 Baseline Road
Ottawa Ontario K1A 0C5
April 7, 2022
Dear Minister Bibeau,
I am writing to follow-up on my correspondence dated January 12, 2022 about several shortcomings of the Business Risk Management Programs which are designed to support farmers. As noted, the BRM programs are largely ineffective, often inaccessible, and in some cases, completely broken.
Farming is one of the cornerstones of Lakeland. I often meet with individual farmers and ranchers or with stakeholder organizations and advocates. Following my earlier correspondence, several groups and individuals all echo the same sentiments. Farmers and ranchers tell me – as I am sure they have told you – that the focus of the government must be on fundamentally reforming the Business Risk Management programs rather than simply tinkering with a few provisions.
First and foremost, farmers and ranchers need programs that are consistent and reliable. There needs to be sufficiently funded national agriculture risk management programs that are delivered consistently across all jurisdictions and do not create a competitive imbalance between agriculture sectors or regions. At the moment, this is not the case. Aspects of government programming, which range from program spending, design or availability result in inequitable coverage amongst agriculture sectors and regions.
In the case of beef producers and ranchers, there is also an urgent need to address rising premiums within the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program that have been caused by significant market volatility. Inflated premium costs are currently rendering the program useless at a time when it is needed more than ever.
Significant changes are also needed to the livestock tax deferral program given that uptake is currently low and significant herd reduction must take place before any valuable benefit can be realized. Amendments to the deferral are needed to make the tool more useful, including ensuring all classes of cattle are eligible under the current deferral provisions.
Extreme weather challenges such as drought, flooding or fires can impact a producer’s ability to maintain and sustain their herd. These events often force producers to sell animals such as calves and breeding stock earlier than anticipated and the ability to use some of those losses to defer tax on buying new herd the next year would be beneficial.
The past year has been very tough for many farmers, ranchers and cattle producers in Western Canada who have suffered through the worst drought in 70 years. However, Canada remains one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, and this country produces the world’s best and most nutritious foods. I urge you to work diligently with your provincial colleagues to address the above, and many other shortcomings to Canada’s Business Risk Management programs to ensure the programs are regularly reviewed to meet their primary objective of helping Canadian farmers; easy to understand and efficiently accessible by farmers; and provide the support to farmers need when they need it.
I look forward to your response.
Shannon Stubbs, MP