The Government of Canada is investing $452 million to support farmers, food businesses and the food supply chain to ensure the agri-food sector can continue to provide Canadians with food. The funding will help support farmers and other businesses operating in the produce, meat and dairy areas.
But some say the funding is not enough. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture had called for a $2.6 billion emergency fund, while the BC Fruit Growers’ Association said it was “underwhelming support.” In a statement Pinder Dhaliwal, president of the BCFGA said the announcement “addresses the immediate needs for the beef and livestock producers and processors but has not addressed the immediate needs of the fruit, vegetable and grain sectors.”
The Federal government says that an initial $252 million will support farmers, food businesses and food processors who provide essential services to Canadians by providing a safe and reliable food supply. It has also announced an additional $200 million in borrowing capacity for the sector.
"Canadians count on farmers and producers to provide them with the food they need to feed themselves and their families,’ said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, adding that the government is “giving them the support they need to keep their workers safe and food systems running during this challenging time, for the benefit of all Canadians."
Specific measures include
- Creation of a $77.5 million emergency processing fund to help food producers access more personal protective equipment (PPE), adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures from COVID-19 so they can better supply Canadians with food during this period.
- Launching a national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19. This includes set-asides for cattle and hog management programs to manage livestock backed-up on farms, due to the temporary closure of food processing plants. This new federal funding will help beef and pork producers and processors adapt to a changing market, and help farmers and ranchers keep their animals longer before marketing.
- Announcing the intention to increase the Canadian Dairy Commission's borrowing limit by $200 million to support costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste.
- Launching a first-ever Surplus Food Purchase Program with an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories, which could include products such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.
- Working with provinces and territories to increase interim payments from 50 per cent to 75 per cent through AgriStability, a federal, provincial and territorial program that supports producers who face significant revenue declines. This change has already been enacted in some provinces.
- Working with provinces and territories to explore possibilities for expanding the AgriInsurance program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector. This work with provincial and territorial partners would insure against lost production due to an insufficient workforce, should producers be unable to find enough labour to harvest.
The government has said that will take additional actions if needed to protect the health and safety of Canadians and to stabilize the economy.