Mother Nature proves less troublesome for Prairie farmers in 2017: report

A report from the Canadian Crop Hail Association says a reduction in potentially damaging storm activity on much of the Prairies this past summer led to one of the lightest hail-claim seasons in eight years.

The 2017 report from the Regina-based association shows there were just over 8,600 claims in Western Canada that generated $96 million in insurance payouts.

The report says there was a decrease in storm frequency from the five-year average, while damage claim frequency was down about 30 per cent for the same period of time.

Manitoba farmers suffered the most losses, followed by Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The association says the lack of moisture was widespread this year with record to near-record dry conditions throughout much of Saskatchewan and parts of Alberta.

The organization also says farmers continue to insure their crops for hail damage at near record levels.

The report said there was more timely precipitation in Manitoba where producers enjoyed good yield and quality, despite dry conditions. The province’s loss ratio of 45.9 per cent was well below 2016’s record loss ratio of 158.9 per cent.

Alberta followed at 33.7 per cent, compared to 83.6 per cent in 2016. Saskatchewan reported a 30-per-cent loss ratio compared to 73 per cent in 2016.

The report said producer premiums totalled just over $286 million for an industry loss ratio of 33.8 per cent.

A dry spring combined with 2016 unharvested acres and some continued industry rate declines resulted in a five-per-cent decrease in producer-paid premiums this year.

The Canadian Crop Hail Association is a member-driven organization that represents the interests of the Canadian crop hail managing general agencies and insurance companies. It’s been serving the crop insurance industry since 1915.

Association member companies write crop-hail insurance products totalling more than $250 million in premiums, and liability totalling about $6 billion.


Satellite Technology Helps Ranchers Manage Feed Crops

The Government of Canada is committed to working with agricultural industry partners to explore and develop new risk management tools that meet the needs of Canadian farmers when faced with serious challenges beyond their control.

Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South, Terry Duguid, on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister, Lawrence MacAulay, was at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business today to announce federal support for a study exploring the use of new and innovative technology to track hay and pasture production. The cutting-edge research, headed by Dr. Lysa Porth in the Warren Centre for Actuarial Studies and Research at the University of Manitoba’s I.H. Asper School of Business, will play an important role in contributing to the stability to the cattle sector.

Working with the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association (SCA), with $988,000 in federal funding, the project consists of collaborative research with Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) to use new satellite-based technology to reliably estimate forage growth at the farm level in each province, and to develop a forage production index, which would form the basis for the development of new insurance tools.


“Feed is the lifeblood of any livestock operation, and our government understands the importance of helping to protect ranchers from risk such as losses to their forage crops. This project uses cutting-edge satellite technology to equip ranchers with the information they need to manage those risks and demonstrates why the University of Manitoba is renowned for its world-class research. With this targeted investment, our government is helping to ensure our ranchers remain on the cutting-edge of science, which helps to create good jobs and grow our economy.”
–  Terry Duguid, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South

“The Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association is glad to support and facilitate this research into forage insurance innovation. Grass and hay insurance uptake rates in the prairies are much lower than for annual crops. Some of this is due to program design and how programs work. By exploring satellite options perhaps we can move perennial crops closer to competitive balance with annual crops, at least when it comes to insurance programs offered. The AgriRisk Initiatives program is the successor to the program that helped to bring Western Livestock Price Insurance to the marketplace and we are glad to see the federal government continue investing in finding new solutions for producers.”
–  Ryder Lee, Chief Executive Officer, Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association

“This project provides a tremendous opportunity to bring together leaders in agricultural risk management and insurance, both within Canada and internationally, across academia, the private sector and government.  Satellite-derived approaches show promise for improving forage insurance, based on improved design that is cost-efficient, representative and reliable, however, more research and development is needed. Our team looks forward to working with the project partners and discussions with Canadian producers in order to help develop improved risk management for forage based on state-of-the-art technology.”
–  Lysa Porth, Director, Warren Centre for Actuarial Studies and Research, and Assistant Professor / Guy Carpenter Chair in Agricultural Risk Management and Insurance

Quick Facts

  • Budget 2017 focused on agri-food as one of the top industries in the Government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, an ambitious effort to make Canada a world leader in innovation with a focus on expanding growth and creating good, well-paying jobs.
  • Budget 2017 set an ambitious goal of growing Canada’s agri-food exports to $75 billion by 2025.
  • Saskatchewan farms reported 3.9 million acres of tame hay in 2016. (Statistics Canada)
  • This project is led by Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association, and involves an interdisciplinary research team with members from the University of ManitobaUniversity of WaterlooNanyang Technological University, SCOR Inc. (an international agricultural reinsurance provider) and Airbus Defence and Space, along with cooperation from Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) and Alberta’s Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC).
  • This investment is made through the AgriRisk program which supports the research and development, as well as the implementation and administration of new risk management tools for use in the agriculture sector. AgriRisk is a Growing Forward 2 Business Risk Management initiative.

Associated Links

Follow us on Twitter: @AAFC_Canada
Like us on Facebook: CanadianAgriculture

SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Halifax

If it looks like a pumpkin, you can call it a pumpkin

By Lee Reich


Friends have complimented me on my pumpkins, but are these things I’ve grown really pumpkins? Sure, they are round and orange and fluted. But look again: There’s more than a hint of red in their skins, and their shape is more akin to a doughnut than to a basketball.

But yes, they are pumpkins, if only because the word “pumpkin” refers to any squashy-type fruit that looks sort of like a pumpkin. No, a “pumpkin” doesn’t even have to be spherical and fluted and orange; there is at least one pumpkin variety, Lumina, whose skin is pale, almost white. Just the kind of pumpkin to scare Halloween goblins, eh?

Segue over into the world of botanical classification and you find what you and I call “pumpkins” falling into any of four different species. Each of these species also embraces one or more kinds of squashes.



The easiest way to tell these species apart is by their fruit stalks. Look at the fruit stalk of Hubbard, Turk’s Cap, buttercup or banana squashes: it’s soft, round and prickly. The second part of the botanical name _ Cucurbita maxima _ hints at one of the pumpkins included in this group, the variety Dill’s Atlantic Giant. It has been the usual record holder for the world’s largest pumpkin, even if it does have more than a hint of non-pumpkinish pink in its skin. This group also includes the pale Lumina. (The record for the world’s largest pumpkin sits at a whopping 2,624.6 pounds.)

Next, look at the stalk of a Butternut squash; it’s smooth, hard and flares out where it joins the fruit. This species _ Cucurbita moschata _ includes so-called “cheese” pumpkins, such as Long Island Cheese, a variety esteemed for pies. Why cheese? Because the flattened shape and light ribbing suggests a wheel of cheese.

Yet another species that includes pumpkins are the gourd-like Cushaws, with smooth, hard and angled fruit stalks. Few pumpkins are represented here, but Japanese Pie pumpkin is one. The species name is mixta.

The species with the most pumpkins is Cucurbita pepo, with pentagonal fruit stalks and prickly stems and leaves. You are right to be reminded of zucchini squash here, because this species includes, besides pumpkins, zucchini and other summer squashes, acorn squashes and some miscellaneous gourds. Among pumpkins, here’s where you find varieties such as Connecticut Field, Small Sugar and Jack Be Little.



Knowing your pumpkins’ lineage isn’t merely academic. Lineage might be important if you’re growing pumpkins for eating.

Most pumpkins used for pies come from the species pepo or moschata. Actually, butternut squash _ a moschata _ is often the ingredient of the “pumpkin pie filling” that you buy canned.

Lineage also factors into how long you can store your crop. Moschata and maxima pumpkins excel at “common” storage, the traditional method of keeping the fruits through winter by just sitting them on shelves in a cool, dry room.

If you are among the growing legion of gardeners who save their own seed, here’s another reason to know your pumpkins’ lineage: Grow more than one variety of pumpkin, and they just might cross-pollinate. Sow seeds from the cross-pollinated pumpkins and you’ll get pumpkins different from the mother ones.

The only pumpkin species that surely will not cross-pollinate each other are pepo and maxima types. On the other hand, crosses between moschata and maxima or between moschata and mixta are possible, while pepo crosses readily with either moschata or mixta pumpkins.

Finally, a pumpkin’s lineage tells you something about its handle. My pumpkins were an old French variety, Rouge Vif d’Etampe, a maxima species. I tried to lift the first one I harvested by its stalk; the soft stalk quickly said good-bye to the fruit. Pepo pumpkins have better handles.

Economical and Atlantic broker Macdonald Chisholm Trask Insurance raise more than $25,500 for Victorian Order of Nurses

When Macdonald Chisholm Trask Insurance (MCT), one of Atlantic Canada’s largest insurance brokerages, teams up with Economical Insurance on MCT Day to raise funds for charity, good things happen.

This year, their partnership raised more than $25,500 for the Victorian Order of Nurses, a critical part of health care services in the numerous communities where MCT has offices in Atlantic Canada.

Every year for the past five years, MCT has hosted MCT Day, its largest annual fundraising initiative, in partnership with Economical, one of Canada’s leading providers of home, auto and business insurance.

Leading up to MCT Day, brokerage staff throughout Atlantic Canada sold 1,850 tickets to win a $5,000 travel voucher from Maritime Travel. The lucky winner was Kathy Atwood of Barrington Passage, NS.

In Bedford, staff held a Washer Toss Tournament and a dessert cook-off at which MCT and Economical staff brought their best dessert and people paid $5 to taste and judge the best of the lot. Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, MCT staff was joined by Economical employees at local BBQs, bake sales and bottle drives to raise funds for the VON.

“MCT Day is an opportunity for MCT Insurance and Economical Insurance to show support and appreciation of organizations that help those in need,” said Liz Cosgrove, Head of Atlantic Canada for MCT. “Over the years, MCT has raised funds for the IWK Heath Centre and KidSport. This year, our employees selected the VON, which provides home and community care every day in our communities. We’re grateful to Economical Insurance, our employees and communities for their time, energy and dedication in making fundraising initiatives for the VON a success. Giving back is a team effort.”

“We are honoured to have been selected as MCT’s cause of choice this year,” said Jo-Anne Poirier, President and CEO, VON Canada.  “This partnership injects critical funds to support VON investment in innovative approaches to delivering care, and will have a direct impact on those we serve.  The funds will support safety and assistive devices and kits that reduce risk for our clients and service providers, and will boost our ability to invest in time-saving technology that allows our service providers to spend more of their time with clients. MCT’s support will also enable investment in important leadership training for our teams, once again with a focus on delivering exemplary care to those we serve.”

“We are delighted to partner with MCT every year to give back to the communities where we live and work,” said Karen Kaminska, Regional Vice-President of Atlantic Canada for Economical Insurance. “This partnership highlights the depth and quality of our relationship with MCT that benefits our customers and the communities we are so proud to support.”

About MCT
Macdonald Chisholm Trask Insurance (MCT) is a progressive insurance brokerage dating back over 70 years with a tradition of building long-lasting relationships with customers and local communities. With over 135 insurance professionals in 18 urban and rural offices, MCT is one of the largest brokerages in Atlantic Canada. MCT is a BrokerLink company. The BrokerLink companies are subsidiaries of Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) and affiliated with Intact Insurance Company, Novex Insurance Company and Jevco Insurance Company.

About Economical Insurance
Founded in 1871, Economical is one of Canada’s leading property and casualty insurers, with more than $2.2 billion in annualized premium volume and more than $5.5 billion in assets as at June 30, 2017. Based in Waterloo, this Canadian-owned and operated company services the insurance needs of more than one million customers across the country. Economical conducts business under the following brands: Economical Insurance, Economical, Western General, Economical Select, Perth Insurance, Sonnet, Petsecure, Economical Financial, and Family Insurance Solutions.

SOURCE Economical Insurance

New Farm Business Unit to better serve SGI CANADA’s farm customers

As farms have become bigger and operations more expensive, farmers’ insurance needs have become more sophisticated. The staff in SGI CANADA’s newly-launched Farm Business Unit understand these changes in the industry and are equipped with the farming knowledge and insurance know-how to better protect today’s agricultural producers.

“Customers have told us that the insurance industry in general hasn’t done a good enough job understanding or serving the ag sector,” SGI CANADA Chief Operating Officer Don Thompson said. “We agree. After talking with customers and independent broker partners, we have begun to make some improvements.  With the new Farm Business Unit we’re looking forward to giving our farm customers better service and the best coverage possible to meet their needs.”

According to the 2016 Census, the average value of Canadian farmland and buildings was 39 per cent higher in 2016 than it was just five years earlier. Farm equipment is getting more sophisticated every year, which also means it’s getting more expensive.  Farmers need an insurance company that understands how the agriculture industry is evolving and is committed to evolving with it.

The Farm Business Unit is ready to meet the growing demands of this rapidly evolving sector, with a specialized team of underwriters and adjusters dedicated to serving only farming and ranching customers. A professional agrologist leads the unit, and all staff have training and knowledge of farming and ranching operations, crop production, farm vehicles, machinery, livestock, equipment, farm buildings and other assets.

“We get that it’s still a busy time of year as farmers race to get the last of the crop in the bin,” Thompson said. “Once harvest has wrapped up, we encourage them to talk to their insurance broker to learn more about SGI CANADA’s Farm Business Unit. We’re here to help.”


Longboard rider faces legal battle after $598 ticket for using electric board

A Vancouver man has pulled the plug on his electric skateboard after receiving a $598 ticket the first time he took it out on the street.

Daniel Dahlberg said he was riding the longboard, marketed as a Boosted Board, on Friday, June 9, 2017 down a hill in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood when he was pulled over by police.

The board can be used as a normal skateboard but also has a battery attached to the bottom, giving the wheels enough torque to push a rider up a steep hill.

Dahlberg said he hadn’t even engaged the battery yet, but his maiden voyage was also the first time he learned from a police officer that riders need insurance.

“I asked him, I had no idea, how do I get insurance, and he told me that there isn’t any to purchase, it doesn’t exist,” Dahlberg said.

“I kinda stared at him. I was trying to think of a way to respond to that because it doesn’t make any sense to me, and then he hands me a $598 ticket.

“Not once was I warned about this or did I read about this.”

Dahlberg has filed notice that he intends to dispute the ticket and said he had already received offers of support after posting about his predicament online.

“I’ve had a lot of attention from that and a lot of people reaching out to me with advice, retired B.C. lawyers who are interested in offering me advice,” he said.

The local boarding community was also rallying, Dahlberg said.

Online checks show the boards sell in shops in Vancouver for more than $2,100 and Dahlberg said the store where his board was purchased has been selling them for at least two years.

But Dahlberg said his board isn’t rolling anywhere, anymore.

“Luckily the manufacturer of the board has a 30-day return policy. So I have already been in touch with them and I’ll be sending back my board for the time being because I don’t really see a reason to use it if I’ll get another fine like this,” he said.

“And then I’ll contest the ticket in court.”

The court process is just beginning and Dahlberg said he didn’t know when the matter might be heard.


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