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Changes announced to crop insurance

Recently, Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced details of the 2018 Crop Insurance Program.

Recently, Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart announced details of the 2018 Crop Insurance Program. Saskatchewan producers will have access to very high coverage as the Crop Insurance Program continues to improve, as a result of the success of Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers.

“Risk management is more important than ever for Saskatchewan producers,” said Stewart in a prepared release. “The Crop Insurance Program is more responsive than ever and will be extremely valuable this year as we come off of one of the driest years in the province’s history.”

On average, Crop Insurance coverage levels are $216 per acre, compared to $217 per acre in 2017. The slightly lower coverage is a result of lower insured crop prices in 2018; however, coverage levels remain very high thanks to the success of Saskatchewan producers as average yields continue to move higher. The average premium for 2018 is $8.41 per acre, down slightly from $8.51 per acre in 2017.

There are a number of enhancements for the Crop Insurance Program in 2018. Fire insurance for pastureland, more crops to be insured under the Contract Price Option and increased compensation rates for cattle lost due to predators are a part of today’s announcement. More information about the changes for 2018 and how coverage is individualized for each farm can be found at

The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA) came out quickly in support of the announced changes).

“The recent fires in the province highlighted some of the gaps in provincial insurance coverage. Linking the proposed fire coverage with rainfall insurance makes sense and we are pleased to see these changes,” said Rick Toney for the SCA in an Association release. “We are especially pleased to see the calculations updated for compensation when a producer loses livestock to predators. They not only lose the animal, they also lose the cost of inputs and the future potential of that calf. This along with yesterday’s announcement of the PST rollback on insurance gives Saskatchewan producers plenty of good news.

“When you consider the changes announced today along with the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program we are getting a lot closer to SCA’s goal of having livestock production on an even playing field with annual crop production when it comes to risk management options. And we are in a good position relative to other jurisdictions.” He added the board of the SCA is looking forward to working with Minister Stewart and his department on these and other files to make sure programs are well designed and communicated so Saskatchewan cattle producers can operate in a beneficial and competitive environment.

The SCA is the provincial check-off agency for Saskatchewan beef producers. Its mission is to develop and promote the success of all production sectors of the Saskatchewan beef cattle industry through effective representation from all regions of the province.

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA) was also pleased that the government heard the voice of stock growers and has responded with enhancements to their risk management programs.

“Despite these tight budgetary times, they have addressed the needs of cattle producers in the Province of Saskatchewan. These efforts show just how much they value our industry,” stated SSGA President Shane Jahnke in a release from the group.

Two changes stand out for beef producers, noted the SSGA. The government will be making wildfire insurance available for tame and native pasture in 2018. The wildfire insurance will be bundled with the existing forage rainfall insurance. The wildfire insurance will run year-round from April 1 to March 31 for a one-year coverage period. The forage rainfall coverage runs from April to July. Coverage rates are variable depending on soil zones. 

“We appreciate that the government is trying to make forage coverage for fire loss more consistent with other types of crops,” the SSGA president added. 

“The wildfires last fall caused tremendous damage to pastures. At the same time, in the aftermath we identified a gap in insurance coverage and these changes help close the gap.” 

Another change that is important to livestock producers, suggested the SSGA is the announced enhancements to the Predation Program. In 2018 there will be a change in the way the minimum value paid for a lost calf is calculated. Previously, the coverage paid $600 per calf until it reached market weight. The changes will use the market price in the fall to set the minimum calf value. The average of the forward price in September will be calculated using weekly average market values in February.
“The SSGA has been urging the government to revise the SCIC Predation Program to compensate producers for animals lost as a result of predation at current market value. Previous coverage was inadequate to cover losses. So, this comes as very welcome news to producers,” Jahnke noted. 

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities were also trumpeting the changes.

The announcement that fire insurance will now be offered for pastureland is a welcome addition. SARM has been advocating for this change for several years. Producers will now be able to insure their pastureland for damages that occur as a result of wildfires. Fire insurance will be bundled with rainfall insurance resulting in more comprehensive protection for forages, in the organization’s own release.

“We have been working with the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation over the last few years and have been pushing for fire insurance for forages,” said SARM President Ray Orb in the SARM release. “We’re glad to see this will be an option for producers in 2018.”

Changes to the Predation Program are also welcome news to SARM. This program provides compensation for livestock lost due to predation. The 2018 program will change how the minimum value paid for a lost calf is calculated. The market price in the fall will be used to establish the minimum value of the lost calf.

“Compensation for lost calves due to predation will be fairer for producers” said Orb. “Overall, the changes to the 2018 Crop Insurance Program look to be positive and will provide producers with more choice to protect their operations.”

The enhancements related to forage – the forage rainfall insurance and forage restoration benefit, and the corn heat unit program – are of importance to beef producers, stated the SSGA. Forage rainfall insurance allows ranchers to tailor coverage with their grazing system.

“This is a key change to coverage in light of the drought conditions that we experienced last summer in southern Saskatchewan,” Jahnke stated.

The forage restoration benefit provides coverage for excess moisture damage from prolonged flooding in established hay. The corn heat unit program will be available at 131 weather stations province-wide. For 2018, the corn heat unit will vary across weather stations. In addition, a change was also made to how heat units will be calculated. The government recognized that there can be a lot of physiological damage at minus 1, therefore, coverage would trigger when the temperature is minus 1 C.
“With the increasing acres of corn being grown across Saskatchewan for silage and grazing, this puts corn on a level playing field with all other crops,” Jahnke commented. “All of these enhancements will make it easier for Saskatchewan’s stock growers to better manage their risk.”

SaskBarley was also supportive of the recent announcement. 

“Malting barley is a high-value crop for Saskatchewan producers, so establishing an effective insurance program for this crop is a priority for SaskBarley,” SaskBarley Director Keith Rueve said in the same release. “We are happy the Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation enhanced the Contract Price Option as it makes malt barley a more appealing crop choice for Saskatchewan producers.” 

March 31, 2018, is the deadline for producers to apply for, renew or make changes to their Crop Insurance contract. The Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation has 21 offices across the province with experts who can help producers review the range of features and options available to customize coverage to the needs of their operation.

Crop Insurance is a Business Risk Management program supported through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Under Crop Insurance, premiums for most programs are shared 40 per cent by participating producers, 36 per cent by the Government of Canada and 24 per cent by the Government of Saskatchewan. Administrative expenses are fully funded by governments, 60 per cent by Canada and 40 per cent by Saskatchewan.