The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has asked Ottawa for $2.6 billion
By Diego Flammini
The national organization representing Canadian farmers is asking the federal government to provide financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) asked the Trudeau government on April 30 to provide an Agriculture and Agri-Food Emergency Fund of $2.6 billion to help maintain the country’s food security.
“Our ask was two-fold,” Keith Currie, first vice-president of the CFA, told Farms.com. “One is to help (farmers) now, but also to maintain the food production system as close to normal as we can possibly be in these times.”
In terms of immediate assistance, some of the federal money would help farmers continue to operate.
Producers aren’t eligible for some of Ottawa’s COVID-19-related programs. Extra costs also aren’t covered by existing business risk management programs offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
“Farmers need that money in hand now,” Currie said. “We’ve got pork producers who can’t give weaners away and beef producers who can’t get cattle to market. The government made sure that everybody who’s out of work got money, but for some reason farmers can’t get money? That’s the struggle.”
The other portion of the ag emergency fund would be to help producers post-COVID-19.
Industries like tourism and travel may need more time to get back to normal, but agriculture and agri-food are well positioned to be an economic driver, Currie said.
“The one sector that really stands out to help with economic recovery is ours,” he said. “A lot of what we produce gets exported and the value in those products is in value-added (applications), and we have a tremendous manufacturing sector in Canada.”
The CFA also anticipates the ag industry will need further support in the future.
The national farm organization has launched a website to help farmers demonstrate the need for federal support.
Producing Prosperity in Canada encourages producers and other Canadians to contact their members of Parliament to highlight the concerns surrounding food supply and potential increases in food prices.
Ottawa has heard from the CFA and is exploring potential support mechanisms for the industry.
“We understand that agriculture groups have specific needs and asks right now, and I want to assure producers that we are actively exploring additional measures to support them,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s federal ag minister, told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “Our government is working tirelessly, along with the provinces and territories, to support our farmers, food businesses and to ensure Canadians have continued access to quality and affordable food on their grocery store shelves and kitchen tables.”