Ralph Goodale, the lone Liberal MP in the province, is the latest politician to tour the areas hardest hit by spring rains. Goodale is calling on governments to commit to assistance quickly so farmers know where they stand, but he doesn’t seem to have any suggestions for exactly how governments should provide assistance. Some have suggested that the Unseeded Acreage Payment be increased, but the problem is bigger than that. A lot of land that was seeded has been washed out or drowned out or is so late that it may be frozen out. As the federal and provincial agriculture ministers prepare to meet next week in Saskatoon, here’s a suggestion for how to structure an assistance program. Match an increase in the Unseeded Acreage Payment with an increase in crop insurance yield coverage. If, for instance, the Unseeded Acreage Payment was increased from $50 to $75 an acre, everyone’s crop insurance yield coverage should increase by something like 10 or 20 per cent. The cost of the top up should not come out of crop insurance, because the program is already going to take a heavy loss. Producers not enrolled in crop insurance would have to fill out an application form and would be eligible for top-up money based on an average of what was received by producers in their zone. Some say governments shouldn’t provide any extra assistance. They say existing programs should be adequate. Others say governments have to react because the income shortfall is going to be so widespread. If governments are going to do something, there has to be a mechanism for making the assistance equitable and that means going beyond just the unseeded acreage. I’m Kevin Hursh. 

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