May 6, 2020, Ottawa, Ont. – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors.
He also announced that the government intends to propose an additional $200 million in borrowing capacity for the sector.
The Government of Canada will provide targeted support to farmers, ranchers, agricultural producers, and food processors by:
- Creating 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. The 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. The government will work with opposition parties to achieve the required legislative change.
- 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.
“Canadians count on farmers and producers to provide them with the food they need to feed themselves and their families,” Trudeau said. “Today, we are 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.”
“I want to reassure all our farmers and agri-business owners across the agri-food industry that our government fully understands that they are essential to our communities and that we are fully engaged to help them through this unprecedented period,” said Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.
“We are grateful for the dedication of our hard working food workers – from the farm to the retail store – every day to ensure we continue to have food on our family tables. This support will help food producers and processors to continue providing the food Canadians need, and help ensure food availability for all Canadians in these uncertain times.”