Too Wet to Seed

**This featured case is one example of the concerns people have brought to us. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved.

One spring, Albert* was planning to seed most of his land, but there was a lot of rain and he was unable to seed some areas by the seeding deadline date to still have crop insurance coverage. He made an “Unseeded Acreage Claim due to excessive moisture” claim with Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation (SCIC) and an adjuster came to his farm to appraise the unseeded fields. Later, SCIC sent Albert a letter stating that his claim was denied because there had been adequate opportunity in his rural municipality(RM) to seed all his land before the seeding deadline date. Albert disagreed and appealed the decision to the regional manager, and then to the Provincial Appeal Panel. He was denied both times.

Albert knew that his fields had been too wet to seed and was frustrated that he couldn’t convince SCIC, so he called our office.

We investigated and found that SCIC had reviewed their files to see how many other claims for unseeded acres they had paid out in that RM. There were none. As a result, SCIC concluded that, like others in the RM, Albert should have been able to seed his land.

When we looked at the SCIC adjuster’s report, the adjuster had recorded that Albert’s land, as stated on the claim, was too wet to seed. We also noted that Albert’s land was at the very edge of the RM. In the RM next to his, there had been many claims for fields that were too wet to seed. We checked with the nearest weather stations and noted the rainfall for that area. Based on the evidence of rainfall amounts, similar claims on nearby fields, and the SCIC adjuster’s report, we concluded that SCIC’s decision was unfair and we made a recommendation that SCIC reconsider and Albert be paid out for the claim.

Our recommendation was rejected initially and we decided that we needed to further address the matter and spell out our findings in greater detail. To do so, we issued a report to the Minister of Agriculture under Section 24 of The Ombudsman and Children’s Advocate Act. We also discussed the case further with the Chair of SCIC, the Minister, and some of the members of the Appeal Panel. Following these steps, the Minister of Agriculture and the Chair of SCIC reviewed the file and the weather data for the two RMs and the land location. As a result, they accepted the recommendation and paid out Albert’s claim.

SCIC also changed their policy and will now compare conditions within a radius of the property rather than comparing conditions in the RM or township.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.