Grower association calls for additional support to ensure food security
May 7, 2020 By Greenhouse Canada
Having been monitoring the impacts of COVID-19 on their members, the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) says in a release that growers need additional government support to bolster Canada’s domestic food security.
“Although there is much more that needs to be done, yesterday’s funding announcements demonstrate that the federal government is beginning to take steps in support of domestic food security,” says Bill George, Chair of the OFVGA.
For one, the OFVGA would like to see fruit and vegetable sorting and packing facilities included in the programs announced for food processors. This would ensure careful packing and timely delivery to retailers.
Another was the announced intent of the federal government to work with provinces on expanding production insurance to include labour shortages related to COVID-19 as an insurable risk.
“As a sector that heavily relies on labour to plant, maintain, harvest, sort and pack fruits and vegetables, having labour disruptions backstopped is something the OFVGA has been recommending to government since the pandemic arrived in Canada,” George states.
To this end, the OFVGA has proposed two measures:
- A COVID-19 rider on top of the current AgriStability programming, providing supplemental coverage to the base program.
- A highly targeted standalone quarantine support program modeled after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s Animal Health Compensation.
“The OFVGA urges the federal and provincial governments to ensure that fruit and vegetable farmers have the confidence now to continue making investments in planting and maintaining their crops, despite the unique and increased risks presented by COVID-19,” says George. “Our approach is to ensure that financial supports exist if the need arises.”
Having closely monitored the impacts of COVID-19 on fruit and vegetable growers, the association’s most recent assessment and recommendations to Ontario and federal governments can be accessed here. Details of the COVID-19 outbreak at Greenhill Produce, a greenhouse producer in Chatham-Kent, is used as case study to illustrate the importance of immediate containment and how the 14-day quarantine period affects the producer in an uninsurable scenario.
According to the document, “Such a shutdown scenario is not an insurable peril under crop insurance; and under AgriStability, the effective compensation rate is below 50%, which leaves farms with a great degree of exposure and does not encourage the growing of full crops. Additional programming is urgently needed for this scenario.”
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