One of the great agricultural pastimes in this country is debate over farm safety nets. We’re at it again. At last week’s meeting in Toronto of federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers, there was a new commitment to consult with producers and farm groups on business risk management programs.You may remember that the federal Conservatives initially came to power with a promise to replace the CAIS program. Instead, they tinkered with it a bit and changed the name to Agri-Stability. Neither CAIS, nor the new Agri-Stability is able to deal with prolonged industry downturns like the ones in beef and hogs. There are a myriad of other problems too. It’s far too complicated and it doesn’t provide fair treatment to producers who do their own income stabilization by having more than one farm enterprise. Before CAIS, there was AIDA which operated in much the same way. We’ve been on the same track for a long time. Now the Ministers are going to consult and report back at their next meeting in July. There may be a move to implement livestock price insurance and there may be tinkering with Agri-Stability, but don’t hold your breath waiting for major changes. Governments do not seem willing or able to consider anything other than income stabilization as the main farm program. As long as that continues, any changes will be largely cosmetic. I’m Kevin Hursh.