Improvements made in some support programs, but problems remain

(Chapter 3—Payments to Producers—Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada—Fall 2011 Report of the Auditor General)

Ottawa, 22 November 2011—While Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has improved some aspects of income support payments to producers, it is still dealing with problems linked to program design, says John Wiersema, Interim Auditor General of Canada, in his report tabled today in the House of Commons.

“Farmers can wait up to two years for a payment and the amount of the payment is hard to predict,” said Mr. Wiersema.

The audit looked at two income support programs involving $600 million a year in federal funds, aimed at protecting farmers from drops in income. It found that the Department has improved payment accuracy, reaching close to 98 percent for one program in 2008. The Department still needs to address delays and the unpredictability of payments to farmers.

The audit also looked at the $284 million Tobacco Transition Program. One objective of the program was to help tobacco farmers exit the industry and not resume tobacco production.

The audit found that the agreement to implement the program did not include enough safeguards to ensure that recipients would not enter into business arrangements that would undermine the program’s objectives, such as recipients renting out their land and equipment to family members, or continuing to work in tobacco production for family members.

“Design of the Tobacco Transition Program was rushed, making its delivery challenging,” said Mr. Wiersema. “This underscores the importance of sound program design, including considering what could go wrong, and how to prevent it.”

- 30 -

The chapter “Payments to Producers—Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

For more information, please click here.