In response to requests from producers for some kind of insurance on unconventional crops such as quinoa or multi-species crops like intercrops, Manitoba Agricultural Insurance Corporation (MASC) has introduced a new insurance product for what it calls ‘novel crops.’
At a recent intercropping workshop at Brandon in November, Robert Manastyr spoke on behalf of MASC to explain how the novel insurance program works. “Anything that you can grow that will produce seed that you want to harvest is insurable under novel crop,” he said.
During the first year of the program in 2018, 14 producers insured about 1,800 acres of intercrop mixtures including canola/lentils/peas, flax/soybeans, soybean/winter wheat and canola/peas.
Anybody who has an agriInsurance contract and grows at least one annual crop or forage seed crop is eligible to apply. “The reason we need at least one crop is that’s how we determine how many acres of novel crop we will take on as liability,” he said. Producers can insure a minimum of three acres and as with any other crop, March 31 is the deadline to apply and June 20 is the final seeding deadline. There is no reseeding benefit with novel crop insurance. Producers can also get hail insurance on novel crops.
Producers can choose from three levels of insurance at $120, $160 and $200 an acre and at 2018 rates, $200 worth of protection cost $3.92. The cost of coverage is shared with the provincial and federal governments. “In effect, the producer pays 40 cents on every dollar of insurance,” he said.
The deductible works as follows: Farmer A produces $550 acres of annual crops and MASC takes 30 per cent as a figure to compare a loss against. So the producer could seed 165 acres of intercrop and MASC would provide coverage. If he or she seeds 200 acres, MASC will only insure the 165 acres. At $200/acre the producer can get $33,000 of coverage.
Payouts are calculated on the loss incurred on any annual or forage seed crops grown. As an example, if a producer has a soybean crop with no loss, but has a $5,000 loss on wheat and a $10,000 loss on canola for a total loss of $15,000, which is a 0.097 per cent loss on all three crops, the payout on the intercrop will be 9.7 x $200 x 165 acres, which is $3,201.
Incentives for intercropping
Manitoba is currently the only province that is offering an incentive to producers to grow intercrops.
“Manitoba Agriculture believes that there are environmental benefits to be had with intercropping such as nutrient cycling, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced pesticide use, more light capture, more photosynthesis and more carbon into the soil,” said representative Matthew Wiens, who also spoke at the intercropping workshop.
Under the Ag Action Manitoba program, producers can receive incentives for certain beneficial management practices (BMPs) including intercrops. Producers and the provincial government share costs 50/50 on the intercropping component of the program up to a $10,000 funding cap. Eligible and ineligible costs are specific to each BMP and the total funding cap for each producer is $60,000, so they can apply for incentives on more than one BMP that they implement on their farm.
Eligible costs under the intercropping BMP are seed separating equipment, and equipment modification to enable seeding intercrops in a single pass. Wiens suggested that the criteria might be a bit more open as far as seeding is concerned. “We are open to proposals on seeding that will enable you to expand intercropping,” he said.
For cover crops, the program will also cover a portion of seed costs in addition to equipment costs.
Producers must have completed an environmental farm plan to be eligible to apply and have a Premises Identification Number. Wiens advised producers, when filling out an application for the program to emphasize the environmental benefits of the project. “What’s going to change on your farm that will increase the environmental benefits from what you are currently able to do,” said Wiens.