The Farm Income Assurance Program

The Income Assurance Program was not intended to be society's way of indemnifying farmers for having their land locked into agricultural land reserves. It is society's right to zone land for various purposes and there was nothing new about that part of the scheme. The insurance program was making available to farmers a similar sort of protection for income stability as is available to employees who participate in the unemployment insurance program. (Dave Stupich, 1989)

There was nothing like it in Canada when the provincial government introduced the Farm Income Assurance Act in the autumn of 1973. The innovative program was based upon submissions from the B.C. Federation of Agriculture, from work within the Department of Agriculture, and from programs which the Minister of Agriculture had seen or read about in other parts of the world. Charlie Bernhardt, President of the Federation and the B.C.F.G.A., played a major role in developing this trendsetting legislation which was intended to stabilize farmers' incomes by eliminating the roller coaster aspects of their annual returns. Financial peaks of years with good returns would be used to fill in the depressions of the years with low income.

The details of Farm Income Assurance as it applied to the fruit industry remained to be finalized in 1974. In the coming years it forced the federal government to reconsider its position and to participate more actively than it had been prepared to do. Some other provinces eventually adopted similar programs.

However, of more immediate interest to tree fruit growers was a grower plebiscite on one-desk selling conducted early in December, 1973.

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