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WHEREAS market gardening is a growing industry producing fresh fruit and vegetables and marketing these crops directly to the consumer; and
WHEREAS market gardens are not able to access cost effective crop insurance to protect their investments; and
WHEREAS the future of market gardens is dependent on stable income;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta advocate to the Government of Alberta for cost effective crop insurance for market gardens.
In the summer of 2022 numerous large storms passed through Alberta. Red Deer County made national news coverage as Highway 2 and the surrounding area was battered by hail, stranding motorists, damaging property and destroying crops. Market gardens were significantly impacted by devastating losses. Market garden producers have begun to reach out to their customers and governments to advocate for improved crop insurance. Crop insurance is available for market gardens; however, they are not eligible for subsidized crop insurance similar to insurance provided to other producers.
Market gardens are eligible for straight hail insurance if they are between one and 30 acres in size and include three or more crops. Crop insurance for market gardens is extremely expensive and some farmers may not qualify due to specific eligibility requirements. This is unlike other types of crop insurance with shared costs which the federal and provincial government contribute to the cost of premiums. Crop insurance with shared costs are typically for commercial grain and oilseed crops.
The lack of crop insurance for market gardens is a deterrent for producers to enter into and stay in the industry. Market gardens have become an important source of local produce. As such, market gardens have become the face of Alberta’s agriculture industry in urban communities through their representation and local markets and prevalence in agricultural tourism. As market gardens grow so does the need for expanded subsidization of crop insurance to ensure that producers of all types and sizes can be successful in Alberta and contribute to Alberta’s long history of agriculture.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Agriculture and Irrigation
Agriculture Financial Services (AFSC) strives to provide the agriculture industry with cost-effective insurance products and relies on feedback from producers, industry groups, municipalities and other organizations. A variety of business risk management products and options for market gardens exist and AFSC staff met with individual market garden operators at the Alberta Farm Fresh Producers Association to discuss products and options. In January 2023, AFSC will continue consulting with market garden operators to seek insight and input on options for a potential cost-shared insurance product.
AGI and AFSC will continue working to understand the risks that market garden operators face and to develop solutions to ensure business risk management programs align with this unique industry.
The ongoing engagement work being undertaken by AFSC is promising. As details on the cost effectiveness are not yet available, RMA is not able to determine if the new policies will be acceptable to market garden operators. Until this information is finalized, this resolution is assigned a status of Accepted in Principle.