Farmers' Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Government Programming at the Ground Level: A Manitoba-Saskatchewan Case Study Comparison
This thesis examines the perceived impact of agriculture programming at the ground level in the Rural Municipality of Albert in Manitoba, and the Rural Municipality of Storthoaks in Saskatchewan. It provides a description of agriculture as it was practiced in these communities in 2008, as well as an analysis of how producers perceived the outcome of three specific programs: the Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) account, Production Insurance (PI) and the Environmental Farm Planning (EFP) program. The Agricultural Policy Framework, implemented in 2003, was the structure upon which these programs originated from. The research measures the effectiveness of the programs as perceived by producers and as compared to national program objectives. The thesis examines how programs occur at the ground level in two rural municipalities and explores whether or not the perceptions of agricultural programming differs between the communities. Program differences on the ground level can result from a number of factors. First, the negotiation process preceding the signing of agreements between the federal and provincial governments can create regional differences in the allocation of funding and program objectives as government priorities and needs are merged. In addition, the agency selected for program administration (e.g., federal government, provincial government or a third-party agency) can impact the level of uniformity in program outcome due to differences during program development. Furthermore, the manner by which the program is delivered and the challenges that accompany the implementation process can result in program variations. In the end, the same national program can have varied results. Specifically, differences were expected between the RMs in two of the three programs analyzed. The Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization account was expected to have similar results due to Manitoba and Saskatchewan‟s reliance on the federal government for program administration. In comparison, Production Insurance and the Environmental Farm Planning program were administered by different agencies as a result of the federal-provincial agreements. It was in these circumstances that differences in program outcomes were expected. Case study communities were selected based on their similarities in order to allow for program differences between the RMs to become evident. A questionnaire survey was conducted in 2008 to solicit information from producers, with additional data obtained from Statistics Canada and government documents. The perceived effectiveness of government programming in meeting program objectives varied. The Agricultural Policy Framework outlined a total of 22 objectives for the three programs under investigation. The Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization account was identified as „ineffective‟ in meeting all of its objectives. Respondents perceived Production Insurance and the Environmental Farm Planning program as being „somewhat effective‟ in meeting program objectives at the ground level. Results indicated similar outcomes between the RMs in 20 of the 22 objectives. This research showed that provincial location played a minimal role in the outcomes of programs as they differed between RMs. In fact, program outcomes were found to be similar in most circumstances. For those objectives that were deemed as „ineffective‟, the research offers producer feedback in an effort to explain the occurrences.