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2012 hail season hit Prairie farmers' pocket books

Prairie farmers can sometimes be at the mercy of severe weather.
Prairie farmers can sometimes be at the mercy of severe weather.

Staff writers

November 5, 2012 — The 2012 hail season generated more crop damage claims and higher payouts than last year.

Hail season hit Prairie farmers hard.

If insurance claims are anything to go by, hailstorms in the Prairies cost farmers dearly this past season.

Insurance companies in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba paid out around $280 million in insurance claims, covering 21,600 reported losses.

The numbers come from the Canadian Crop Hail Association, which noted the numbers are significantly up from last year, when insurers paid out $164 million on 15,000 claims.

Farmers in Saskatchewan were the worst hit. Insurers paid out $159 million on 13,500 claims.

That's up considerably from last year, when the figures were $121 million, on 11,800 claims.

Norm Hall, the president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, said even with insurance, farmers affected by the hail would feel the effects.

"With prices where they are right now, rarely can you insure what the real crop value is," he said. 

However, even though the payout numbers seemed high, he didn't expect the lost crops to significantly impact market prices.

"There's going to be some impact, but generally it's such a small percentage of the crop in the province, and therefore the total crop in the world .... it has generally miniscule effect on the market," he said.

Alberta and Manitoba farmers, meanwhile, suffered far fewer losses, but also saw the payout, and total claims, skyrocket from last year.

Alberta's 5,500 claims were more than double last year's amount of 2,500 claims.

And the total payout almost tripled: $90 million in 2012, compared to $36 million last year.

Manitoba's numbers were the smallest but, like Alberta, they were very much higher than in 2011.

Farmers in that province saw $31 million paid out on 2,500 claims in 2012. Last year's numbers were much smaller: 1,100 claims, $6.9 million in payouts.

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