A forage-insurance package providing increased protection for Manitoba forage producers will be available in 2014, Canadian government officials announced last week.

The new package is based on recommendations from the Manitoba Forage & Grassland Association (MFGA) and several other ag-producer groups. “With improved and more flexible forage insurance products to choose from, Manitoba hay producers will now have greater incentive to protect their feed supplies from weather-related risks,” says Gerry Ritz, federal agriculture minister.

The insurance will be provided through AgriInsurance, a federal-provincial-territorial business risk management program administered by Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation.

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Producers can choose “select” hay insurance, which provides quality and production guarantees for different forage types on an individual basis. Or “basic” hay insurance insures against production losses on a whole-farm basis at a lower cost.

With one of those coverages, participants will automatically receive “forage restoration” benefits that provide them compensation to reseed established, tame hay fields lost due to excess moisture. They can also receive “hay disaster” benefits – compensation for buying replacement hay when there is a severe forage crop loss at the provincial level.

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Other options offered include “harvest flood” coverage for coarse hay that producers can’t harvest because of excess moisture, and “enhanced quality” coverage, for alfalfa hay based on individualized relative feed value.

"The package presented provides excellent individual production-based coverage through a broader set of risk-management tools for various forage types, hay or pasture, including disaster benefits such as losses to excess moisture,” says Jim Lintott, MFGA president.“We hope that producers will see the benefits of these programs and sign up for 2014. With the current high value of forages, now is a good time to establish your individual production levels."

The signup deadline is March 31. See a fact sheet on the program.

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