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AFSCRemindsProducersofFebruary28DeadlinetoInsureHayand PastureinAlberta
AstheFebruary28deadlineapproachesforAlberta farmerstoinsuretheirpastureandhaylandthisyear, aboveaveragetonormalsnowcoveracrossmuchof theprovincehasmanylivestockproducersfeeling hopefulaboutthepotentialgrowththeyllgetontheir hayandpastureoncethesnowmeltsthisspring. Wehadadryfallinmanypartsoftheprovincewith verylimitedmoistureinSeptemberandOctober,but theproducersItalktoarefeelingencouraged bytheamountofsnowwevegottensofarthiswinter, saysBarryYaremcio,aprovincialbeefandforage specialistwiththeAlbertaAgInfoCentre. DrySoilConditionsBeneaththeSnow WhilethedeepsnowhasbeenchallengingforsomeproducersincentralandnorthernAlbertapreventing cattlefromswathgrazingorwintergrazingearlierintheseasonthanusualitshouldhelpoffsetdrysoil conditionsthatliebeneaththesnowinmanyregionsdependingonhowitmelts,saysYaremcio. Ifwegetaslowmeltandthegroundtakesupmostofthemoisture,itshouldhelpkickstartgrowthonour hayandpasturesthisspring.Butifwegetaquickmelt,mostofthatmoisturewilllikelyrunoffandcollectin thesloughsandcreekswithminimalbenefittothedrysoil,heexplains. $4.4MillionPaidonHayandPastureInsuranceClaims Lastyear,dryconditionsinearlyspringandlatesummertriggeredmorethan$4.4millioninhayandpasture insuranceclaimsinsomeareasacrosstheprovince,saysJohnKresowaty,withAgricultureFinancialServices Corporation(AFSC).AFSCistheCrowncorporationthatprovidescropinsurancetoAlbertafarmersonbehalf oftheprovincialandfederalgovernments. WhentherainfinallycameinlateMayandJune,weendedupwithstronggrowthonhayandpasturein mostregions,saysKresowaty.Lastyearstotalpayoutisamongthelowestinmorethanadecadedueto favourableprecipitationandgoodgrowingconditionsinJuneandJuly.Thehighestpayoutyearsforhayand pastureinsurancewereduringthedroughtsof2009when$56millionwaspaidinclaims,and2002when$89 millionwaspaidout. Perennialhayandpasturecropsdependonplentyofmoistureearlyinthespringforhealthygrowth,says GrantLastiwka,aprovinciallivestockforagebusinessspecialistwithAlbertaAgricultureandRural Development(ARD).Asageneralrule,70to90percentoftheyieldpotentialofpastureandrangelandis determinedbyearlyJuneacrosssouthernAlberta,andbyearlyJulyacrosstherestoftheprovince,he explains.Sowhilesnowmeltcanhelp,gettingadequatespringmoistureandrainfallduringApril,May,and Juneultimatelydetermineswhetherproducerswillgetgoodproductionontheirhayandpastureeachyear, saysLastiwka.

JohnKresowatywithAFSCremindsAlbertaproducersof theFebruary28deadlinetoinsurehayandpasture.

Ofcourse,nobodycanpredictwhatwillhappenthisspring,saysARDprovincialsoilmoisturespecialist,Ralph Wright.Itcouldbewetorthesnowcouldmeltquicklyandthingscouldturnhotanddry.Ifitsacoldspring, thesnowcouldlinger,delayinghayandpasturegrowth.Therearestilltwomonthsofwinterleft.Anythings possible.Itsreallyawaitandseegamebecauseweatherissorandom,saysWright. UnpredictableweatheristhebiggestreasonAlbertaproducersinsureabout7.5millionacresofhayand pastureacrosstheprovinceeveryyearthroughAFSCPerennialInsuranceprograms,saysKresowaty. 12NewWeatherStationsAdded NewtoPerennialInsurancethisyearistheadditionof12newweatherstationstotheprovincialnetwork AFSCusestodeterminepayoutsonPerennialInsuranceprogramsforhayandpasture.Wenowhave238 weatherstationsacrossAlbertathatmeasureprecipitationandotherweatherdata,saysKresowaty. FarmerswhotakeMoistureDeficiencyInsuranceontheirpastureorincludeitasarideronhayinsurance selectuptothreeweatherstations,heexplains.Ifaccumulatedmoistureatthesestationsfallsbelownormal overthegrowingseason,aclaimistriggered.Kresowatysayshayinsurancealsoinsuresagainstyieldlosses causedbyperilssuchashail,flood,insects,disease,lightning,winterkill,andwildlifedamage. Mostproducerswhoinsurehayandpasturestayintheprogrameveryyear,saysKresowaty.Thepremium discountstheyearnlikelyinfluencethatdecision,hesays,notingaContinuousParticipationDiscount,an ExperienceDiscountforlowclaimsonhayinsurance,andanEarlyPaymentDiscountcanadduptoa reductionof60percentormoreonhayinsurancepremiums. FormoreinformationaboutPerennialInsurance,farmerscancontacttheirlocalAFSCBranchortheAFSCCall Centreat1877899AFSC(2372)beforetheFebruary28deadline.