Photo: James Nickel, MASC agent from the Altona, Man. office (centre), with Rick Giesbrecht (left) and Cornie Paetkau (right) of the Living Grains growing project—a recipient of free hail insurance from MASC.
In summer, 2009, everything was coming along just fine for the Central Alberta Canadian
Foodgrains Bank project in Lacombe, Alberta. Then it hailed.
“We had an excellent canola crop,” says treasurer Ken Ditzler of the project, which farmed 150 acres for the Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working to end global hunger. “We were on pace for 60 bushels an acre.”
The hail damage reduced the yield to 33 bushels. Fortunately, the loss was covered by free Straight Hail insurance from the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), a Crown corporation that administers insurance, lending and income stabilization programs to agricultural producers.
“It felt good knowing we could still send the full amount to the Foodgrains Bank,” says Ditzler, noting that the insurance made up the difference.
Something similar happened to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank SHARE growing project near Morden, Man. in 2011.
“We had a beautiful crop of wheat,” recalls Ben Friesen, who helps organize the SHARE growing project. “Then the hail came.”
Like in Alberta, the SHARE project had free hail insurance, in this case from Manitoba Agricultural Services Corporation (MASC), a Manitoba government organization that provides insurance for farmers in the province.
“We got $20,000 for damaged crop, which we sent to the Foodgrains Bank,” says Friesen. The Lacombe and Morden projects are two examples of how AFSC and MASC partner with the Foodgrains Bank to ensure that growing projects in the two provinces can keep insurance costs low, and be able to send a donation to the Foodgrains Bank in the event of hail.
“We really appreciate AFSC’s generous support,” says Terence Barg, who coordinates Foodgrains Bank growing projects in the northern part of Alberta. “It’s great to have this additional bit of security in the event of bad weather.”
“For people who are donating their time and effort to grow a crop for the Foodgrains Bank, it can be very dispiriting to see it destroyed by hail,” adds Andre Visscher, who coordinates growing projects in the southern part of that province. “The free insurance means they can still donate something even if the worst happens.”
“Farmers work hard to raise money for the Foodgrains Bank,” says Manitoba regional coordinator Harold Penner. “Support from MASC not only provides insurance, but makes the work of farmers on behalf of people who are hungry more secure, meaningful and enjoyable.”
Since 2001, AFSC has supported the Foodgrains Bank by providing the first $80 per acre of Straight Hail Insurance free of charge on crops grown by community growing projects in Alberta.
Last year this translated to AFSC donating over $24,000 worth of insurance premiums. In Manitoba, MASC has been offering free hail insurance since 2009 for every project that carries crop insurance, up to a maximum of 160 acres. This year, it has increased the level of insurance coverage from $150 per acre to $175 per acre.
“We are indebted to corporations like AFSC and MASC in Alberta and Manitoba,” says Foodgrains Bank Executive Director Jim Cornelius. “Their support insures that we are able to help feed more people in the developing world who don’t have enough to eat.”