Red Deer County market gardener hopes for better insurance ahead – Red Deer Advocate


Red Deer County councilor and market gardener Lonny Kennett hopes efforts to improve insurance coverage for small growers will bear fruit.

A pair of hailstorms that swept through central Alberta, severely damaging crops and a number of market gardens, sparked calls for better insurance coverage for small farms.

Large producers regularly turn to crop insurance to mitigate some of the financial losses caused by natural disasters, such as hailstorms or drought. Although insurance is available for those who produce fruits and vegetables on often a few acres, it is prohibitively expensive for most.

On Tuesday, County Council voted in favor of a draft resolution calling for affordable and adequate insurance coverage for market gardens at the fall conference of Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) in Edmonton from November 7 to 10.

Cody McIntosh, director of agricultural services for the county, told the council that the Alberta Financial Services Corporation (AFSC) and Alberta Agriculture and Forestry seemed receptive to improving insurance coverage.

AFSC officials and Agriculture and Forestry Minister Nate Horner and his team had met at The Jungle Farm, which suffered devastating losses to its fruit and vegetable crops after a pair Hailstorms less than a month apart hammered the farm, 10 km north of Innisfail, in July and August.

McIntosh said the AFSC plans to meet with vegetable growers and other stakeholders for feedback this fall. Proposals for additional coverage could be considered as early as the spring. Alberta Agriculture officials have also expressed a willingness to work with AFSC on the changes, McIntosh said.

Kennett is heartened that the issue seems to be on the right ears.

“I think Minister Horner understands what’s going on and how the industry needs help dealing with serious weather issues,” said Kennett, who runs Rare Farms, a 2.5-acre market garden in about six km east of Red Deer. He was among those who suffered major hail losses this summer.

“And it’s great that this advice is getting and we can help say to the minister, ‘Hey, this is an important issue for a lot of people in the community. “”

Kennett thinks the scale of the damage this summer has pushed the insurance issue to the fore.

“There were two major storms that really hit everyone. I know that at farmers markets right now they are seeing a lot of shortages, even with carrots, potatoes and other root vegetables. »

“It’s had such a ripple effect and when you add the drought and all that, it’s a problem for everyone.”

“(Insurance) is just a little help for us to get through the tough times when they come.”

Red Deer County Mayor Jim Wood said it’s important that area residents have access to good quality food.

“Vegetable gardens provide that,” Wood said.

Since the county missed the deadline to submit resolutions for the fall conference, it must be submitted as an “emerging” resolution. A resolution committee determines whether it is urgent enough to become a late addition for resolution debates.

Com. Dana Depalme said the RMA’s support would strengthen the case for insurance changes.

“I think the RMA is going to put more pressure on them. I definitely support that.

Even if the resolution doesn’t do the trick, Red Deer County will continue to push the issue forward, the councilman said. Philip Massier.

“If he doesn’t pass, that doesn’t mean he falls off the table for this board,” he said.

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