TORONTO Ontario is proposing amendments to the Crop Insurance Act, 1996, that would, if passed, allow more types of agricultural products to be covered by production insurance.
Currently, production insurance is available for almost 90 commercially grown crops, including grains, oilseeds, and certain fruits and vegetables. However, Ontario is the only province in Canada without the authority to expand production insurance beyond crops to the broader agricultural sector.
If passed, the proposed Agriculture Insurance Act would give Ontario the authority to expand insurance to support the agri-food industry in the event of unexpected loss of production for agriculture products. In 2013, there were more than 14,000 producers insured under Ontarios production insurance program, representing more than five million acres in cropland.
Production insurance is part of a suite of business risk management programs designed to help farmers manage losses due to events like weather, pests and disease. The costs of these programs are predictable, stable and shared by producers and the provincial and federal governments.
Ontarios Progressive Conservative agricultural critic and MPP Toby Barrett (Haldimand-Norfolk) says an expansion of production insurance to cover more agricultural commodities is long overdue.
But Barrett has a plethora of questions concerning the provincial government proposal.
“Will there be a premium holiday in the first year? Will it be easy for farmers to forecast the amount and timing of payments? Can the payments be processed rapidly to get them into the hands of farmers quickly? Will program calculations be clear and transparent? Will each participant get a detailed statement, something like, say, the income tax forms that we receive back?”
Barrett says he hopes the legislation will provide adequate response if and when another disastrous situation like BSE should occur.