FREDERICTON (GNB) – Improvements will be made to the program that helps farmers manage risk to their income by providing financial assistance when their farm business experiences a large margin decline.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments have agreed to remove the reference margin limit for AgriStability, one of the business risk management programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

“I am pleased we could come to a consensus on an improvement to such an important program that will be of benefit to New Brunswick farmers,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “Farmers asked for these changes which we pushed for and supported. The changes to this financial safety net will better support farmers and producers who are facing challenges.”

Removing the reference margin limit could increase the overall amount AgriStability pays out to farmers by about $95 million nationally. In addition, the deadline for producers to enroll in the program will be extended to June 30, 2021, with the removal of the reference margin limit made retroactive to the 2020 program year.

The objective is to simplify the program and increase the level of support for agricultural operations with lower allowable expenses. Johnson said this change is an important step towards making the program easier to understand, more bankable, more accessible, and fairer for some sectors which may have been left out of the program under the previous rules.

Costs for the removal of the reference margin limit will be shared, as outlined in the Canadian Agricultural Partnership; 60 per cent by the federal government and 40 per cent by provincial and territorial governments.

AgriStability is part of a suite of programs that helps farmers manage risks such as natural disasters, weather events, severe loss and market volatility and protects producers against large declines in farming income for reasons such as production loss, increased costs and market conditions.