POLITICS

New livestock price insurance program for cattle, hog producers

01/24/2014 03:24 EST | Updated 03/26/2014 05:59 EDT
CAMROSE, Alta. - A pilot program is being launched to help cattle and hog producers in western provinces manage price risks.

The federal government and the western provinces unveiled a four-year Western Livestock Price Insurance Program on Friday at the Canadian Bull Congress in Camrose, Alta.

Agriculture officials say it will allow livestock producers to ensure a price for their animals by buying insurance. The idea is to protect producers against unexpected price drops.

Alberta introduced price insurance in 2009 for cattle and hog producers and this plan expands the concept to British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

"By providing livestock price insurance across Western Canada, we will be able to level the playing field, ensuring all producers have access to these important risk management tools," said Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart.

"This will help attract new, young producers to our industry and contribute to the overall growth of the livestock sector."

Officials in Alberta say about 900,000 cattle — just under one-third of the herd in that province — are insured under the program. Just under 10,000 hogs are insured.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association welcomed the new program.

The association says the program can help with some of the most unpredictable aspects of managing cattle farms.

"It's extremely important that we're on a level playing field when it comes to raising cattle in Canada," said association president Martin Unrau.

"We, of course, feel this program could be done all the way across Canada, but at this time this is what we have and it's a tremendous, tremendous benefit for us as cattle producers. It's another tool that we can use to manage both price and basis risk."