Agricultural Disaster Management

Subscribe to our free E-Newsletter, "Agri-News" (formerly RTW This Week)Agri-News
This Week
 Are you covered? | Defining disaster | Government disaster policy | What are your risks? | Links

Are You Covered?

Response to any disaster begins with YOU! Take all possible precautionary measures before an emergency arises. Only if the emergency situation exceeds your ability to respond will the responsibility shift to the municipal, provincial or federal government levels. It is important to note, however, the government will only provide compensation if the disaster is an extraordinary event, financially devastating and most importantly, if the losses could not have been covered by insurance.

Remember: You are responsible for insuring those items where insurance is available. Take the time to review the possible losses that may occur on your farm in the event of a drought, flood, fire, tornado, ice storm or other disaster. Be sure you understand what your insurance policies do and do not cover. Choosing not to insure items where coverage is available may cause financial hardship to your operation. Governments will not compensate you for losses which you choose not to insure.

Defining Disaster

There are many definitions and types of disaster. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines disaster as "a great or sudden misfortune". The Disaster Services Act, defines disaster as "an event that results in serious harm to the safety, health or welfare of people or in widespread damage to property." These are very broad definitions that can be applied to any disaster.

What specifically is an agricultural disaster? An agricultural disaster is "an event which seriously threatens the livelihood of one or more members of Alberta's agricultural community."

Government Disaster Policy

Over the years there have been a number of weather related events that have adversely affected the Alberta farm community. Prior to 1995, crop insurance, revenue insurance, the Net Income Stabilization Account (NISA) and ad hoc programs were the sources of assistance for production and income shortfalls. If the event was a major disaster, such as the southern Alberta flood in 2002, Disaster Recovery Programs also provided assistance to full-time farmers for essential and uninsurable assets.

Recognizing that ad hoc programs were costly to administer and often considered unfair subsidies by our trading partners, the agricultural industry and governments knew that changes had to be made in agricultural risk management policies. After extensive consultations with producers across Alberta in 1994, new policies and a new program were developed. The agriculture industry would increase their responsibility for managing risks and governments would provide assistance in periods of major income shortfalls. An improved crop insurance program and the Farm Income Disaster Program (FIDP) were implemented as part of this process. Crop insurance helps farmers manage their production risks while the FIDP provides assistance for income losses. Effective for the 2003 income tax year, the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program replaced FIDP. CAIS has now been replaced with one of a new suite of business risk management programs for the 2007 stabilization year. The new suite includes AgriInvest, AgriStability (previously CAIS coverage), AgriRecovery and AgriInsurance. For further information on these programs contact AFSC at or by calling 1-800-396-0215.

In addition to having adequate crop insurance, farmers need to carry property insurance that will protect them in the event of major disasters such as fires and damaging wind storms. Governments will not provide financial assistance where insurance is reasonably and readily available. Farmers need to take the time to review their policies to ensure they have adequate coverage. Choosing not to insure major items such as livestock, buildings, and machinery may cause unnecessary financial hardship. Governments will not compensate farmers for losses which they choose not to insure.

It is important to get insurance to prepare for an eventual disaster and there are other farming practices as well to consider. For example, the type of crop farmers choose to seed in periods of either drought or wet conditions may have an impact on the profitability of their operation. Post disaster farming practices can also have a bearing on how well the land recovers. For example, soil erosion prevention measures against wind and water will be of great benefit in preserving top soil and fertility.

What Are Your Risks?

The following questions can get you thinking about the risks you face every day on your farm. Consider each question in relation to your operation. We hope that, armed with these questions, you will be able to make the optimum use of the information you will find on our Weather and Agriculture web pages.

  1. How much loss can your farm absorb or handle?
  2. Can you withstand a crop failure or loss of some or all of your livestock?
  3. Would your insurance adequately cover your loss of capital assets and/or income in the event of a disaster?
  4. What adverse weather could affect your farm?
  5. What precautions have you taken to protect your family and the farm?
  6. Are you familiar with the Emergency Management Act, the Water Act and the Soil Conservation Act?
  7. Keeping in mind potential disasters, have you considered all your production options?
Links to Other Disaster Sites

University of Wisconsin - The Disaster Handbook

General links
Government Acts
Municipal Affairs Alberta Emergency Management Agency
Share via
This information published to the web on June 15, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on July 13, 2017.