The federal and provincial agencies that serve Prairie grain growers had better prepare for “widespread claims” on ag programs across much of the region, the Grain Growers of Canada warn.
“With the cold spring, delayed planting and drought across much of the cropping area of Western Canada we have a large disaster in the making,” said Doug Robertson, a Carstairs, Alta. farmer and president of the Grain Growers of Canada. “We are asking the federal and respective provincial governments to get to work now.”
The Ottawa-based group said in a release Friday that it had written letters to that effect to federal Ag Minister Gerry Ritz and his provincial counterparts, Rosann Wowchuk of Manitoba, Bob Bjornerud of Saskatchewan, George Groeneveld of Alberta and Steve Thomson of B.C.
“Whether it is crop insurance, AgriInvest, AgriStability, AgriRecovery or any other program, now is the time for both levels of government to ensure they have adequate staff, and that those staff are both trained in claims management and can actually understand the programs,” said Robertson.
“Will people be able to knowledgeably answer questions when farmers call in?” he asked. “Is there infrastructure like adequate space for people, phones, computers et cetera?…Are the claims forms ready to be printed?
“Nothing is more frustrating to a farmer facing poor crops and a financial crunch than to be given a runaround when he goes to file a claim or ask questions of clarification.”
“With proper preparedness, money from safety nets can flow in a timely basis to farmers,” said Robertson, who’s also a director on the Alberta Barley Commission.
“We encourage these respective ministers and their senior staff to begin work now in anticipation. We are probably at the point where we now know there is little hope of a normal crop and the least we can do is ensure that there is a timely response to help farmers when they need it most.”