Pilot project being created to look at ways to improve AgriStability

A call to Alberta producers is being made to participate in a pilot program this year.

Agriculture Financial Services (AFSC), an Alberta Government Crown Corporation, is looking for cow-calf producers or those with diverse operations for the project, which will look at how to fully capture input costs under the AgriStability program. 

This follows a review on AgriStability conducted by Agriculture Financial Services last year, focusing on how to make it more responsive to producers’ needs.

CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen’s Association Grant McLellan is aware of the pilot project.

“This pilot is something that cattle organizations across the country, including ours, have looked forward to,” McLellan said. “It’s really trying to capture some of the improvements to the AgriStability program that we’ve been seeking for, for some time.”

Like his counterparts in Alberta, McLellan has heard from producers in Saskatchewan that AgriStability could be better.

“It really doesn’t evaluate effectively those own-source items, such as own-source feed, own-sourced labour – it really doesn’t have the ability to measure those things, so this pilot in Alberta is attempting to really effectively capture some of those costs that have not really been eligible in the past.” he said.

AFSC’s review suggested a possible improvement, that could benefit Alberta producers, could focus on the limited program eligibility of feed and pasture costs and the significant feed inventory price adjustments during drought. They noted AgriStability only covered a portion of total feed and pasture costs due to different production systems and practices to obtain winter feed and pasture for the cow herd.

In Saskatchewan, McLellan noted the program worked for some in the livestock sector, in particular those in feedlots where “those margins are a little bit easier to capture” and “purchasing all their feed externally”, so the costs “are all accounted for”, whereas those who have mixed operations the program fails to capture all of their margins. He is looking forward to the results of the pilot project and any improvements that can be made.

Agriculture Financial Services says Alberta producers don’t need to be in AgriStability to be eligible for the pilot project, but do need to show accurate historical income and expense reporting, as well as year-end inventory reporting. Those interested can contact AFSC.

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