The federal government has passed the regulations it promised would strengthen the Advance Payments Program.
The changes, which are now in place, were announced on May 1. They provide farmers with more cash flow and are specifically targeted to assist canola producers impacted by the government’s trade dispute with farmers.
The amendments increase loan limits from 4400,000 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 $500,000in the 2019 program year.
The Advance Payments Program is a federal loan guarantee program that provides producers with access to low-interest cash advances to help provide flexibility so they can sell at the best time.
According to a press release from the federal government, officials are working with the 36 program administrations to revise contracts and operating procedure and to ensure changes are properly implemented. Producers will be able to apply for the new amounts as early as June 10, and new advances over $400,000 will be issued as of June 26
Expanding the program was one option championed by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe.
Reaction to May’s announcement was mixed, but even producers who welcomed it stressed it should only serve as a short-term solution.
The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) called the announcement a “step in the right direction” but said that more had to be done.
“It still does not address the problem with China, president Ray Orb said.
Monday, Saskatchewan MP Ralph Goodale indicated that the government was still seeking long-term solutions.
“Stronger cash advances, with a larger interest-free portion for canola, as requested by western producers, will help support farm incomes while we work on all possible fronts to overcome current market distortions and impediments,” he said in a written statement.
The announcement that the regulations had been hanged came just days after criticism was levelled at the federal government for taking too long.
SARM put out a press release on May 28 calling for swift action.
“We need to see movement on this issue,” Orb said.
“We believe a diplomatic resolution is required to address this issue with China, and we’d like the federal government to demonstrate action on behalf of canola producers across the country.
“Nearly a month has passed, and producers are frustrated with the lack of progress in putting funds in place. It is imperative that we stand united in supporting our farmers and SARM remains committed to ensuring a resolve to this issue.”