P.E.I. farmers will be getting one of the biggest crop insurance payouts the province has ever seen.

'It looked like a tremendous year first thing in the spring.— Dave Aiton, Agricultural Insurance Corporation

The Agricultural Insurance Corporation insures about 80 per cent of the potato crop and 85 per cent of grain and oilseed crops on the Island, with a total of about 1,800 contracts. The Crown corporation has already processed 500 claims, and expects to process more.

It could come to $5 million more in payments than was budgeted for this year.

The weather was very unkind to farmers this year, said corporation general manager Dave Aiton.

"It looked like a tremendous year first thing in the spring. Farmers got on the ground maybe as early as they've ever gotten on the ground," said Aiton.

"That changed all of the sudden, we had drought for the first half or three quarters of the year, then we had excessive moisture, so it'll probably be one of the largest payout years the corporation has ever had."

The payouts will not be anything the corporation can't handle, he said. Bad years such as this one are exactly the reason the corporation exists.

Bertha Campbell, president of the P.E.I. Federation of Agriculture, said the corporation is really paying off for farmers this year.

"It helps to bring you back to a little bit more of a stable position," said Campbell.

"It's important. We had a drought back in 2001, and for anyone that didn't have crop insurance at that time that was a very difficult time period."

More than 80,000 hectares of crops are protected with insurance on P.E.I.