WHEREAS the AFSC offers Alberta farmers and ranchers the Canada-Alberta Lack of Moisture Insurance Program for Pasture; AND WHEREAS the program has been fraught with problems since its inception and is largely ineffective due to methods of determining soil moisture;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the AFSC to cancel the Canada-Alberta Lack of Moisture Insurance Program for Pasture until a more workable format can be established and refund all premiums and interest paid by producers.
Livestock producers in most areas of the province experienced severe drought conditions in 2002 and therefore purchased coverage for 2003. After a very dry summer again this year, these producers assumed they had some protection and attempted to make claims. It became evident very quickly that the parameters of the program were not well understood or communicated. We have identified two major problems with the program. Firstly, spring moisture is calculated on stubble land and that measurement can be substantially different from pasture. Secondly, payments are determined by the data collected from a weather station chosen by the producer which, in many cases, can be 60 to 80 miles away. This method does not necessarily reflect local conditions and therefore may not be fair to producers who do not happen to live close to a weather station. Because of the lack of understanding of the program, Ponoka County has submitted this resolution. It is our hope that the parameters of the program can be reviewed and improved so that realistic and fair coverage can be offered in 2004.
The AAMDC has two resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue. Resolution 3-01S, endorsed at the spring 2001 convention, calls on the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation to reinstate the pasture portion of the forage insurance program, and conduct a full review of the program in order to establish further improvements or changes in the future. In its response, the province said the pasture portion of the forage insurance program, as it existed prior to 2000, would not be reinstated. However, a pilot insurance program for native pasture would be conducted in areas of southern Alberta during 2001. Research would also be undertaken across the province to obtain more information on the relationship between pasture yields and satellite imagery data. If the research was successful, the pilot insurance program would be expanded to the rest of the province for 2002. Resolution 10-98F, endorsed at the fall 1998 convention, calls for (a) the Government of Alberta to address serious natural disasters by creating long-term solutions such as improving crop insurance indexing, surcharges and deferrals to reflect current conditions, reinstating dugout and water well programs, and implementing tax deferrals on livestock sales, and (b) for the province to ensure that its programs become more responsive to the needs of producers by more closely reflecting current agricultural conditions. The Alberta Farm Water Program began in 2001 and continues today, while the federal government offers a year-by-year tax deferral for livestock sales by producers in drought-affected areas.