The federal government has removed the limit of the reference margin threshold for farmers to be eligible for support through the AgriStability program.

AgriStability offers farmers financial compensation for losses experienced during the year and is a business risk management program under the federal-provincial Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

The elimination of the reference margin limit will be made retroactive to the 2020 program year.

According to statements from Argenteuil-La Petite Nation Member of Parliament Stéphane Lauzon, and Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, the removal of the reference margin could increase total payouts to farmers across the country by $95 million.

The objectives behind making the change are to help simplify the program and help farmers in need by increasing the level of support for agricultural operations with lower allowable expenses. This change is an important step towards making the program easier to understand, more accessible, and fairer for some sectors, who might have been left out of the program under the previous rules.

“We’ve been looking at ways to get them to increase the threshold to trigger some of these programs,” said John McCart of Grenville-sur-la-Rouge, who represents farmers across the Outaouais and Laurentides region of Québec for the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), the province’s largest farm organization.

According to McCart, the process of applying for AgriStability assistance was discouraging for many farmers.

“They basically thought it was too bureaucratic, and it is.”

McCart is hopeful the changes will make the program more accessible for farmers.

Changes to AgriStability eligibility were made in consultation with provincial ministers of agriculture. The cost of removing the reference margin limit will be shared, with the federal government covering 60 per cent, and provinces paying for 40 per cent.