GUELPH — It’s probably no surprise that in such an unpredictable year crop insurance coverage is up.
According to Agricorp, the province’s supplier of production insurance, enrolled acres hit 5.3 million this year, up 300,000 from last year. That includes more than 1.6 million insured acres of corn and over 2 million insured soybean acres.
Prescott-Russell and Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry have the most insurance coverage in Eastern Ontario, with both counties breaking 50,000 insured acres for both corn and soybeans. Hastings County has least coverage, less than 1,000 insured acres of corn. That’s lower than anywhere else in the province. Lanark, Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington each have fewer than 10,000 insured acres of corn.
Stirling-area crop and sheep farmer Dale Ketcheson said a boost in winter wheat and hay acreage might be partially to blame for lower insurance coverage. He carries crop insurance for both his corn and soybeans but added that for some growers, three years of back-to-back bad weather and consequently bad yields can discourage getting insurance.
Payouts are based on average yields, so many growers would “have to have a pretty bad year to get paid,” he said. “People (are) willing to take a chance on that.”
Lindsay-area crop farmer Joe Hickson said East-Central Ontario has a whole mix of factors at play. A livestock-rich region, many producers might be willing to opt out of crop insurance since they can count on dairy or beef income. Another factor is that some producers work the land at numerous locations. With yield so dependent on weather, having land spread out across a large region reduces your weather risk, he said. Hickson farms 2,500 acres spread out over 53 farms.
But things might be changing. Many producers are taking advantage of cash programs like the ones delivered by the Agricultural Credit Corporation out of Guelph, which often require production insurance. And many producers who don’t want or think they need crop insurance do want to be able to take advantage of those programs, he said. “To participate, you have to have crop insurance,” Hickson said.