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.

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