Written by Treena Hein

Farmers across the four Western provinces can access cash flow assistance through the federal Advance Payments Program (APP), with the first $100,000 interest-free. The remainder — up to $1 million per producer — is available at a low interest rate of TD prime minus 0.75 per cent.

What better tool is there to help producers recover from the difficulties of 2021 and make the most of the 2022 growing season?

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) is excited to again be administering the APP across Western Canada through its FarmCash program and encourages all producers to apply starting March 1. There is no fee to apply for FarmCash, and online application platform is easy and fast, with turnaround just three to five days.

FarmCash is available to producers of over 50 commodities ranging from wheat and canola to bison and honey, but AWC Chair Greg Sears explains that while the super low-cost financing program is designed for the benefit of a wide variety of agriculture producers, it can be especially helpful to meet the needs of those who grow crops.

“Farmers can take advantage of beneficial seasonal pricing on both input purchases and crop marketing with less worry about a cash flow crunch,” he says. “Having cash flow assistance at your fingertips means that when you’re presented with an opportunity to buy inputs at low cost or need to make a quick decision about a purchase, a low-cost advance is just a few days away.”

AWC is proud that its applications for the program grew by almost 50 per cent in 2021, reports FarmCash COO Syeda Khurram. “We’re excited and very pleased to see more new producers and repeat applicants making the smart decision to leverage this tool. We started in Alberta in 2018 and in March 2021 we rolled it out to producers in B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba.”

However, Khurram notes that so far, only half the producers in Saskatchewan have taken advantage of the APP, and only about a quarter in each of Alberta and Manitoba.

“We are strongly encouraging you to apply,” she says. “We’re ready to help each and every one of you with customized, outstanding service. We’ve designed the way we run the program, from our online application platform to our dedicated account managers, based totally on producer input. We’ve had many producers reaching out to us with feedback, we’ve also done a survey and our account managers are always gathering more input so we can improve our excellent service even further. We do everything possible to meet every applicant’s needs, and we’re pleased to see more applicants every year. We know we’re doing a great job because we’ve had steady growth.”

FarmCash participants have already accessed over $100 million.

Making the most of 2022

Sears notes that with the poor 2021 harvest, cash flow for 2022 crop inputs will be tight. Input prices are also high this year due to supply chain issues and increased fuel costs. “We’re also experiencing inflation pressure and the threat of increasing bank borrowing costs,” he says. “The first $100,000 in FarmCash advances are always interest-free, and the rest is always below bank rates. You can’t get lower cost than that!”

With FarmCash, producers of a wide variety of commodities can maintain healthy reserves in their bank accounts to cover unexpected expenses and without incurring high interest charges. They have a very low-cost way to offset rising input costs and mitigate risk from weather, volatile markets and much more.

“The program even helps in succession planning by providing financial stability for retiring farmers, and growth opportunities for successors,” says Khurram. “FarmCash isn’t just a financing tool, it’s a way for producers to preserve and improve the value of their farm businesses, today and for future generations.”

Producers who have questions about eligibility or available commodities can call 1-855-376-2274 toll-free or email farmcash@albertawheat.com. The easy-to-use online application is located at www.FarmCashAdvance.com

The Advance Payments Program is a federal loan program administered by the Alberta Wheat Commission. It offers Canadian farmers marketing flexibility through interest-free and low interest cash advances.

Originally published on March 5, 2022 in the Western Producer.

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