Insurance experts say some policies cover the problem while others do not

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Protein consultations, higher crop insurance coverage coming

Manitoba Co-operator

Manitoba’s agriculture minister had some good news for farmers at Manitoba Ag Days Jan. 22.

Ralph Eichler announced consultations on a strategy to make Manitoba North America’s plant and animal protein supplier of choice.

He also announced higher crop insurance coverage for Manitoba farmers this year and lower premiums.

“We are in a great position to grow the protein sector in Manitoba, but that growth requires a strategy, strong leadership, by commodity and industry associations to provide an enabling environment for investment for sustainable production and for the processing for our agricultural products,” Eichler told farmers at Ag Days. “To that end I am announcing today a plant and animal protein strategy by the department… “

A consultation paper, Manitoba Protein Advantage, will be available Feb. 1 at the Manitoba Agriculture website, with consultations to follow.

The final strategy will be presented at the Manitoba Protein Summit in September.

Key priorities of the strategy are increasing livestock processing, ensuring that pig supply matches processing capabilities, increasing the beef-breeding herd, continuing to develop the sheep industry, new investments in new plant protein extraction, and positioning Manitoba as a leading research and development centre in North America for plant protein extraction technology, the Manitoba government said in a news release.

Livestock production and processing are significant contributors to Manitoba’s economy, the release said. In 2017, Manitoba livestock farm-cash receipts were $2.2 billion, while processing accounted for $1.8 billion and an estimated 4,500 jobs, Eichler said in the release. Despite regulatory changes making it easier for farmers to built new hog barns, new construction has been slower than hoped, Eichler told reporters. He blamed years of low profits in the hog industry.

Eichler also said managing manure will be important as livestock production increases in Manitoba. While manure is a valuable fertilizer for crops, transporting it is expensive.

“Piping is an alternative,” he said. We can pipe manure a long ways too. We have mineral producers that transport minerals for 90 miles and think nothing of it. So there are opportunities to move manure fairly easily… there are options but we haven’t got down that path…”

Manitoba farmers will see crop insurance coverage increase 1.7 per cent in 2019, while premiums will fall by 7.1 per cent, Eichler said.

Manitoba farmers’s crop insurance coverage in 2019 is expected to exceed $2.8 billion on 9.5 million acres in Manitoba, the highest level of coverage on record, Eichler and his federal counterpart, Lawrence MacAulay, said in a joint news release.

AgriInsurance is a federal-provincial program.

Program changes for the 2019 include:

  • Introduction of separate yield coverage for hybrid and open pollinated fall rye.
  • A higher dollar value for seed potatoes to account for the higher cost of production and higher market value.
  • The list of crops eligible for organic insurance will be expanded to include barley, field peas and hemp grain.
  • Dollar values for organic crops will increase due to an update in how the dollar values are determined.
  • Livestock and forage producers will benefit from a change in the way poor quality forages are adjusted for claim purposes, resulting in payments that better reflect losses due to low quality.

More than 8,000 Manitoba farms are enrolled in AgriInsurance. Manitoba has the highest level of AgriInsurance participation in Canada with over 90 per cent of annual crop acres enrolled.

The total governments’ share of AgriInsurance premium for 2019-20 is expected to be $125.07 million.

Under AgriInsurance, premiums for most programs are shared 40 per cent by participating producers, 36 per cent by the Government of Canada and 24 per cent by the Manitoba government. Administrative expenses are paid 60 per cent by Canada and 40 per cent by Manitoba.

Great West selling U.S. individual life insurance and annuity business for $1.6B

By Armina Ligaya


Great-West Lifeco Inc. has signed a deal to sell its U.S. individual life insurance and annuity business to a subsidiary of Protective Life Corp. for $1.6 billion, which is below the unit’s value on the Manitoba-based insurer’s books.

The deal will allow the company to focus on the retirement and asset management markets in the United States, said Great-West’s chief executive Paul Mahon.

“We continually evaluate capital deployment opportunities at Great-West Lifeco,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “With the strengthened capital position resulting from this transaction, we will also consider other capital management activities, including potential share repurchases, to mitigate the earnings impact of the sale.”

The business that Protective Life, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dai-ichi Life Holdings Inc., will acquire includes bank-owned and corporate-owned life insurance, single premium life insurance, individual annuities, and closed block life insurance and annuities. Great-West Life & Annuity will retain a block of participating policies, which will be administered by Protective, the companies said.

The business contributed about $120 million to its net earnings for the first three quarters of 2018, Great-West said. But the insurer expects to recognize a closing book value loss of about $93 million and transaction costs of $76 million.

Great-West’s shares were down more than four per cent in midday trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange to $28.03.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of this year, subject to regulatory and customary closing conditions.

“This business aligns well with our long-term plans for growth and scale,” said Protective’s chief executive Richard J. Bielen.  “The life and annuity business has been a cornerstone of Protective throughout our history and will continue to be an area of future growth for the company.”

The deal also raises questions about whether Great-West’s next strategic move would involve Putnam Investments, its U.S. global asset manager and retirement plan provider, said National Bank of Canada Financial Markets analyst Gabriel Dechaine.

The transaction Great-West Life announced Thursday has strategic rationale, but Great-West isn’t in dire need of a cash infusion, he said in a note to clients. The $1.6 billion of deployable cash from Great-West’s sale of its U.S. individual life insurance and annuity business will be added to the insurer’s existing excess capital of $3.6 billion, and a debt capacity of $3 billion and holding company cash of $900 million, Dechaine added.

“As such, we believe the sale of non-core U.S. assets will raise expectations that an M&A transaction involving Putnam is imminent.”

Study finds more than half of food produced in Canada wasted

By Bob Weber


More than half the food produced in Canada is wasted and the average kitchen tosses out hundreds of dollars worth of edibles every year, says a study researchers are calling the first of its kind.

“It’s a lot of food,” said Lori Nikkel of Second Harvest, the Toronto-based group working to reduce food waste that commissioned the study.

“We waste more food than we consume.”

The study released Thursday is the world’s first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates, said Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, which conducted the study.

Value Chain works with agriculture, aquaculture, marine and food industries to make them more profitable.

“What we did was actually go to industry and (said), ‘Give us primary data,”’ Gooch said.  “This is the first time anywhere in the world that anyone’s gone out and got primary data that connects production with consumers.”

Results were checked with industry experts.

“At every point in the process, we ground-truthed it,” said Gooch.  “We’re confident our results are conservative.”

Previous work has suggested that Canadians waste almost 400 kilograms of food per person, one of the world’s highest totals. The new work adds considerable detail to that figure.

Apples rot in the grass for lack of harvest workers. Surplus milk is flushed. Thousands of hectares of produce are plowed after cancelled orders.

The report, funded largely by the Walmart Foundation, concludes 58 per cent of Canadian food production is wasted.

That includes unavoidable waste such as animal bones. But a solid one-third of the waste  more than 11 million tonnes could be recovered.

The report says the value of usable groceries that wind up in landfills or other disposal sites is almost $50 billion. That’s more than half the amount Canadians spend on food every year and is enough to feed every Canadian for five months.

As well, it says avoidable food waste in Canada produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

The report says processing and manufacturing are the largest sources of avoidable waste, accounting for 43 per cent of it. Produce that doesn’t meet exacting grading standards, inaccurate market forecasts and inefficient processes are all part of the problem.

So are date codes which remove perfectly healthy food from the market.

“Best-before doesn’t mean awful-after,” said Nikkel.

Canadian kitchens are also conspicuous wastrels, responsible for 21 per cent of avoidable waste. That’s about $1,700 per household in a country in which four million people struggle for regular meals.

Hospitals, restaurants and institutions contribute 13 per cent of avoidable food waste. Retail outlets are close behind at 12 per cent.

Farmers waste only six per cent of the usable food they produce. Distributors waste even less at five per cent.

The report details many ways waste could be cut. Better co-ordination between farmer and processor, changes to crop insurance, clearer date codes, improved safety assessments for donated food and liability reform could all help keep nutrition out of the garbage and on somebody’s plate.

Even avoiding bulk buys that result in excess being tossed away would help, said Nikkel.

Canadians should change their attitude toward food, she added.

“We’ve cheapened it so much that it doesn’t have value any more. It would horrify our grandparents. ~ Winter Driving Safety

Few are off the hook when it comes to dangerous winter driving conditions: according to the Federal Highway Administration, 70% of the United States’ roads are in areas that receive 5 or more inches of snowfall a year. What’s more, during the coldest months, well over 100,000 people are injured annually in crashes on icy or snowy roads. Follow these tips (and feel free to share the infographic below) to keep you, your family, and your car safe.


Ready your vehicle for winter weather​

  • Get a tune up. Make sure everything in your vehicle is in working condition: ignition, battery, transmission brakes, spark plugs, filters, fan belts, etc.
  • Keep your tires inflated. Because of low temperatures and icy roads, you run a heightened risk of flats. Adequate tire pressure will help prevent them.
  • Top up your fluids. Your vehicle should always be flush with oil, antifreeze, and especially, windshield wiper fluid.
  • Use the right tires. If you live in a hilly region where road conditions are unpredictable, installing winter tires with added traction may be necessary.

Make sure to store the essentials

  • Things to keep you warm. Keep blankets, boots, and cold weather clothes in your trunk in case of a breakdown.
  • Flashlights and flares. Use these tools to alert other motorists of your presence in case of an emergency. Matches and extra batteries for the flashlights are a good idea, too.
  • A fully-inflated spare tire, tripod jack and wrench. These should always be in your car if you get a flat, but in winter the need is especially immediate.
  • Tools to keep the snow at bay. Don’t leave home without your ice scraper and snow brush. You really won’t want to have to use your hands.

Know how to drive in snowy conditions

  • Maintain an increased stopping distance. With the added risk of slides and spinouts, stay farther away from other vehicles than you would during other seasons: around 8 seconds between your car and others.
  • Handle hills correctly. Don’t flood the gas at the crest of a hill, let your inertia bring you to the top. Never stop mid-way up a hill.
  • Don’t brake too quickly or forcefully. This will cause you to lose traction and cause steering wheel lockup.
  • Accelerate slowly. Hitting the gas when the road is slippery will cause you to skid and lose control. Ease into every acceleration.

Know how to handle a snow drift or breaking down

  • Don’t run the engine. Tempting to keep warm in frigid weather, but if your exhaust pipe is clogged, you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Don’t try to push your car out of the snow. This could lead to overexertion or worse, the car might drift in your direction.
  • Stay in your car. The nearest gas station may not seem far, but if weather conditions shift, just ten minutes outdoors could lead to exposure. Call for help, ignite a flare, or tie a bright colored cloth on your antenna to indicate you are in need of help.

winter driving safety infographic

Scotiabank sells pension and insurance business in Dominican Republic

TORONTO _ Scotiabank has signed a deal to sell its pension and related insurance businesses in the Dominican Republic.

The Canadian bank says it will sell Scotia Crecer AFP and Scotia Seguros to Grupo Rizek.

Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available, but Scotiabank says the transaction is not financially material to the bank.

Grupo Rizek is a diversified business group in the Dominican Republic.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

The sale follows an announcement last month by Scotiabank that it was selling its banking operations in nine Caribbean countries and its insurance operations in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.

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