District farmers offered drought insurance

Throughout the ages, weather always has been the most important factor in the lives of those who grow grains or pasture. It also is the one thing completely beyond their control.
But now, thanks to a new initiative from the Ontario government, farmers in Rainy River District at least can mitigate the damage should Mother Nature turn her wrath against them.
Agricorp, formerly known as Ontario Crop Insurance, is offering the 2005 Forage Rainfall Program to district farmers.
Agricorp regional manager Barry Roberts explained the program to the 30 people who attended the spring conference of the Rainy River District Soil and Crop Improvement Association last Friday in Barwick.
Under the program, local farmers can purchase coverage against drought at a premium of 3.24 percent of applied coverage for forage crops and grains.
The policy will pay if less than 80 percent of the average rainfall occurs between May 1 and Aug. 31.
Roberts said the system is set up so that the amount of rainfall is capped at 70 mm/day and again at 125 percent of the daily average. That means low rainfall amounts will be scored as is, regardless of the maximums that occur.
He also said the policy has paid out a total of $500 million over the past five years.
In order to gain an accurate measure of the amount of rainfall, Agricorp has set up 435 special weather stations across the province, including nine in the district.
Policy holders must go to the station nearest to their fields, take a reading, and record the date. If the amount of rain falls short of 80 percent, a claim can be filed at the end of the month.
To apply for the policy or for more information, contact Agricorp district rep Reg Kaus at 852-3967.
The deadline for applying to the program this year is May 1.