While the impact may prove to be minimal on PEI, the executive director of the PEI Federation of Agriculture is happy to see new regulations implemented by the federal government to enhance the Advance Payments Program.
The amendments made to the Agricultural Marketing Programs Regulations increase loan limits from $400,000 to $1 million for all producers on a permanent basis, and increase the interest-free portion of loans on canola advances from $100,000 to $500,000 in the 2019 program year under the APP. Producers of all other commodities can continue to receive up to $100,000 interest-free.
"The increases are something the Canadian federation has been advocating for a while," Robert Godfrey said.
The executive director said the trade dispute with China probably the main reason the measure is being implemented now.
On May 1, the Government of Canada announced its intention to amend the Agricultural Marketing Programs Regulations to increase loan limits under the APP. The Government also announced a two-month extension to the AgriStability enrollment deadline for the 2019 program year without penalty, from April 30 to July 2, allowing farmers more time to sign up and benefit from the program. This exceptional step agreed to by FPT governments will enable the program to help more farmers manage the impact of current market disruptions and production challenges facing many farm operations.
The federation administers the Advance Payment Program in the province on behalf of the federal government. Godfrey said the changes have meant some revisions on the administrative side but said it will be business as usual by the end of this month.
While there is not a great many Island operations that would qualify for the $1 million loan limit, he said the new rules will offer some help for those requiring over $400,000. He noted the federation has been expecting the announcement for some time and "I have talked to a number of producers-- some say it is welcome and they plan to use it while others don't feel it will impact their operation a great deal."
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the changes will provide farmers with more cash flow, providing them flexibility to manage their farm operations, adjust their marketing plans and explore new market opportunities.
"These measures will help ensure our hardworking Canadian producers have the flexibility they need to manage their cash flow,” she said
With the regulations now in place, government officials are working with the federation and the other 35 program administrators to revise contracts, operating procedures and to ensure system changes are properly implemented, and are working as efficiently and effectively as possible. Producers will be able to apply for the new amounts as early as June 10 and new advances above $400,000 will be issued as of June 26.
"We will certainly be ready by that date," Godfrey said.
Producers are encouraged to contact their APP administrator regarding application details and processing timelines. In the meantime, the Government continues to provide producers access to the current advance limit of $400,000, which effective immediately, is interest-free for all canola advances.
The Advance Payment Program is a federal loan guarantee program which provides agricultural producers with access to low-interest cash advances to help provide marketing flexibility to allow producers to sell their commodity at the most opportune time. Advances are available on over 500 crop and livestock products across Canada.