Sask. crop insurance to boost unseeded-acres payout

Billed as its highest average per-acre coverage ever, Saskatchewan’s package of crop insurance offerings for rain-weary farmers in 2011 will include a $20 per acre increase in its unseeded acreage benefit.

The 2011 program, announced Thursday, will raise the unseeded acreage benefit to $70 per eligible acre. Given record rains in much of the province in 2010, the benefit will now also include a revised seeding-intensity calculation “to increase benefits to producers affected by excess moisture.”

Changes to forage insurance coverage will allow producers to supply Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. (SCIC) with yield records to establish individual coverage, as opposed to using area averages.

Values for the Forage Establishment Benefit option will rise for alfalfa, grass and alfalfa/grass to $55 per acre, up from $40, and for sweetclover to $55 per acre, up from $30.

SCIC’s Variable Price Option for forage crops, meanwhile, will switch to September price forecasts, rather than July.

Melville-based SCIC on Thursday also announced it would raise Establishment Benefit values for large green lentils to $45 per acre, up from $40, and for canola and identity-preserved (IP) canola to $50 per acre, up from $45.

Crops eligible for SCIC’s Crop Averaging Program, which allows producers to insure up to the 90 per cent coverage level, will in 2011 include irrigated acres, as well as IP canola; red and other-coloured lentils; brown, oriental and yellow mustard; extra strong wheat; and hard white spring wheat.

SCIC said it will also revise its field pea pricing methodology to “more accurately reflect the increased market for human consumption.”

Among other changes for 2011, young farmers starting a new contract will now be able to use yields and premium discounts from an immediate relative, phased in over three years. And producers on a joint contract for three years will be able to start their own contracts using existing yields and discounts, without adjustments.

Given the program’s “record-high” 2011 budget of $161 million, the overall average per-acre coverage levels will reach $173 per acre, the province said, up from $131 in 2010.

The deadline this year for Saskatchewan producers to apply for, change or cancel an SCIC contract is March 31.

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