Manitoba extends forage insurance survey deadline

Review's face-to-face public meetings cancelled

Manitoba’s provincial review of its relatively under-subscribed crop insurance offerings for forage growers has extended its deadline for grower comment.

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. (MASC) last week announced it has cancelled all in-person public meetings on its forage insurance review, citing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. But the agency has extended the deadline to take part in its online survey and/or comment by email.

Producers who can’t get at the online survey are asked to contact the department at 204-239-3275 or by email to have a copy of the survey mailed or emailed to them.

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MASC, in an email to producers, said it also plans to hold focus group meetings via videoconferencing “to further delve into survey responses and to discuss possible solutions to issues identified.”

Those focus groups, MASC said, will be made up of producers who completed the survey and “offered their availability.” The meetings “will be kept to small numbers to allow effective engagement.”

The forage insurance review, launched last month, is led by Mike Lesiuk, a former provincial director of sector policy for the ag department, who’s expected to provide recommendations to provincial Agriculture Minister Blaine Pedersen and MASC “later this spring.”

Completed surveys are expected to help inform the province on “how the current forage insurance platform is being used, its limitations and what changes need to be considered.” Producer groups and “other stakeholders” will also be approached.

Over 1,200 producers in Manitoba now have MASC forage insurance. That covers over 272,000 acres, which the province said amounts to about 18 per cent of what’s eligible. By comparison, about 90 per cent of annual crop acreage has MASC insurance.

“The back-to-back production challenges faced by forage producers in 2018 and 2019 have impacted provincial and local feed supplies,” the province said, a problem which in turn is “is affecting producers’ ability to maintain herd size and negatively impacting farm finances.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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