It’s been a very hard few years for ranchers in Alberta. Melanie Wowk, chairperson of the Alberta Beef Producers, recently told the Calgary Herald that a combination of factors, including last year’s drought, increased costs, and supply chain issues, have put a lot of pressure on cattle producers across the country. Wowk estimates there has been a “loss of 17 to 25 per cent of the national herd.”
If herd numbers continue to decline, prices for beef will continue to go up. Wowk is calling on the federal and provincial governments to subsidize livestock price insurance in a similar manner to as is done in the U.S. Also called cattle price insurance, or just cattle insurance, livestock price insurance is not currently subsidized by any Canadian government and Wowk says prices are not affordable for beef producers. Crop insurance for grain producers is subsidized in Canada, and Wowk says it’s important to support cattle producers in the same way in order to keep the industry healthy and viable.
As fewer younger people are joining the food and livestock industry due to the relatively high level of risk, the average age of a producer keeps rising. There are 35,515 producers over the age of 55, and only 21,680 aged 54 and under. Only 5,115 producers across all sectors are under 35. Wowk says more people could be attracted to the industry with more affordable livestock price insurance and that conversations are ongoing about the issue.
What is livestock price insurance?
Alberta first initiated livestock price insurance in 2009, and in 2012 it was expanded to all four western provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Livestock price insurance protects ranchers of both cattle and hogs against drops in prices over a period of time. Essentially a risk-management program, livestock price insurance is administered through the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation, which also provides crop insurance and income support and lending programs. Calf price insurance is purchasable from February to June each year, feeder price insurance is based on local markets, and fed price insurance allows producers pay a premium up front in order to purchase protection.
Producers can inquire about livestock price insurance by downloading the forms from the Agriculture Financial Resource Services’ Resource page, or by calling a local office or their client contact centre at 1.844.782.5747.
General farm insurance information
General farm insurance coverage is available through Alberta insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s. As brokers, we are your advocates in the insurance industry. We have close partnerships with several of the very best farm insurance providers in Canada and are able to cross compare their policies with the needs you have identified to find you excellent coverage at the most affordable rates.
Farm insurance is generally comprised of:
- Coverage for your buildings, including your home and any outbuildings such as Quonsets and sheds.
- Machinery coverage for items and infrastructure such as your tractors, trailers, ATVs, combines and irrigation equipment.
- Loss of use coverage for when a major machine breaks down and you are unable to work.
- Livestock can be insured through regular farm insurance for incidences such as fire, explosions, and even animal attacks, depending on what form you choose.
- Loss of earnings coverage should an insured event cause major damages that stop work being done.
Farming trends in Alberta
Although the province’s farming industry is getting smaller, there are some positive signs for the future. The world still requires Alberta agriculture. Although the total amount of farmland has dropped by 2.2% over the last five years, says a May 2022 Calgary Herald article, the actual number of farms in the province increased from 40,648 to 41,505. More women are entering agriculture, too, with 18,525 in 2021 as compared to 17,760 in 2016. Alberta consistently produces the most spring wheat, canola and barley in the country, and due to the ongoing resiliency of beef producers, the number of Alberta beef cattle ranching and farming operations, including feedlots, actually increased from 12,282 in 2016 to 14,601 in 2021.
Contact Lane’s for more information about coverage for your farm
We at Lane’s deeply respect the farming industry in Alberta and have qualified experts on hand who are able to design and build a customized farm insurance policy based solely on your individual needs. Brokers know the right questions to ask to ensure you are treated fairly.