Manitoba seeks more climate-responsive risk management

Premier Stephen Harper and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger examine flooded areas around Brandon in July 2014. (PMO photo by Jill Thompson)

A Manitoba provincial task force has been set up to seek ways in which farm risk management programs could be “more comprehensive and sustainable” in handling “climate-related challenges” such as floods.

“Manitoba’s farmers have told us existing agricultural programs can’t adequately address these climate-related challenges, especially as they become more common,” Agriculture Minister Ron Kostyshyn said in a release Wednesday.

The task force, announced during Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon, will start consultations this spring with farmers and other stakeholders and “review existing programs and consider options that will be more predictable, comprehensive and sustainable for farmers and governments.”

A final report with recommendations to government is expected by year’s end, Kostyshyn said.

Information about consultations will be available online and at the agriculture department’s GO offices once dates and locations are set, the province said.

Five of the task force’s six members have yet to be named, but are expected to represent Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. (MASC), a financial institution, farmers and “others with expertise in this area.”

The task force’s chairman will be Bill Uruski, an Arborg-area farmer who served as provincial ag minister (1981-87) in Howard Pawley’s NDP government.

The task force is also expected to evaluate current risk management tools, including production insurance, for their effectiveness in helping farmers manage and recover from “climate-related challenges,” and to look for any “gaps in existing policies and programs.”

The task force is also expected to recommend “new options to improve farmers’ ability to manage climate-related risks” and look at “ways to shift government support from ad hoc assistance to planned and predictable programs.”

Given the issues with flooding and/or excess moisture Manitoba farmers have faced in recent years, Uruski said it’s “timely” to run such a review. — Network

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