2017 Harvest

2017 Harvest

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Court says Agricorp not bound by two-year limitation period in going after farmers for past overpayments

An Ontario court has ruled that AgriCorp, a provincial Crown corporation that delivers farm-related government programs (including crop insurance), is not bound by the standard two-year limitation period in its efforts to recoup overpayments made to farmers.  Beginning in 2012, Agricorp notified about 4,500 farmers that they had been overpaid and owed re-payments totalling more than $30 million.  As of January 3, 2014, over $19 million had been collected or would be collected based on re-payment agreements.

Justice Marc Labrosse found that AgriCorp, as an agent of the Crown, benefits from the exemption from the two-year limitation period at Section 16(1)(j)(i) of the Limitations Act, 2002.  A group of farmers affected by the AgriCorp clawback had applied to the Court for the opposite ruling to put off any effort by AgriCorp to commence court actions to recover unpaid funds.  The farmers argued in part that because payments were made by AgriCorp to farmers, and re-payments were payable to AgriCorp and not the Crown, the debt belongs to AgriCorp and not to the Crown.  Therefore, AgriCorp is not an agent of the Crown in the sense required by the Limitations Act, 2002.  Instead, the farmers argued that AgriCorp is more like a private corporation with "farmers serving farmers".

Read the decision at: Group of Ontario Farmers v. Agricorp.