Canada announces $252 million in support of agriculture
Investment includes a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund.
May 5, 2020 By Greenhouse Canada (with files from the Prime Minister's Office)
The federal government has announced an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors today.
As part of the investment, a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund has been created 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.
A national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding has also been set aside to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19. This is part of a suite of federal-provincial-territorial (FPT) Business Risk Management (BRM) tools under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, originally meant to help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters. Though this funding is usually cost-shared between federal, provincial, and territorial governments, this program will become more flexible so that the federal government can directly provide its share of the funding to producers, regardless of whether provinces and territories are able to contribute.
A first-ever Surplus Food Purchase Program will be launched with an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadian
In addition, the federal government is working with provinces and territories to increase interim payments from 50 per cent to 75 per cent through AgriStability, the deadline for which was extended to July 3. British Columbia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, and Alberta have all already agreed to the 75 per cent AgriStability interim payment.
Possibilities are being explored 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.
Other areas of funding increasing the Canadian Dairy Commission’s borrowing limit by $200 million. An additional $200 million in borrowing capacity has also been proposed for the sector.
“Canadians count on farmers and producers to provide them with the food they need to feed themselves and their families. 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,” says Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.
“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. 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,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
In the past few months, the federal government has committed a number of resources to ensure industry has the support and tools needed to manage through these difficult times, including:
o $50 million to ensure farmers can safely welcome temporary foreign workers with measures necessary to follow the Quarantine Act, by assisting with the incremental costs of the mandatory 14-day isolation period. In April, sector partners, in close collaboration with the federal government, successfully brought in over 80 per cent of the normal amount of Temporary Foreign Workers to Canada, compared to the previous year.
o New measures to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to help mitigate a shortfall in the workforce.
o $20 million to bolster services of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
o $100 million to organizations addressing food insecurity such as food banks.
o $25 million through Nutrition North to ensure food security for Canada’s most vulnerable.
o An additional $5 billion lending capacity for Farm Credit Canada, which has already resulted in loan deferrals valued at over $3 billion.
o $173 million in deferred Advanced Payment program loans for grain, cattle, and flower producers.
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