Governments of Canada and Ontario provide some support for beef and hog farmers affected by industry disruptions due to COVID-19
By Jackie Clark
The Canadian and Ontario governments are dedicating $10 million to help beef and hog farmers with emergency costs due to market disruptions caused by COVID-19.
“The funding will help cover the increased costs of feeding market-ready cattle and hogs due to COVID-19 related processing delays, while redirecting surplus pork products to help those in need,” said a June 17 joint statement from Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal ag minister, and Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s ag minister.
Officials earmarked $5 million for each industry. For the beef sector, the money will fund a set-aside program.
“Farmers can claim $2 per head of cattle per day to help pay for additional maintenance costs should they have to keep their market-ready animals on their farms for extended periods of time,” said the statement.
Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) thanked both levels of government for putting this safeguard in place.
“The set-aside program is an important contingency tool to have available, and we thank our governments for their hard work to get this put in place,” said Rob Lipsett, BFO president, in the June 17 statement.
“But our farm families remain in need of financial support to help weather this crisis, something we will continue to work on with both levels of government until those needs are addressed,” he added.
The logistics of how the provincial government will administer funding to hog farmers remains unclear.
“We haven’t received the details yet. We’re still working with Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs staff to figure out how to make best use of these monies to help producers who were forced to hold pigs during the COVID-19 crisis,” Eric Schwindt, chair of Ontario Pork, told Farms.com.
More work must be done to fully support Ontario’s livestock producers, he emphasized.
“This is just a first step in what we need to accomplish,” Schwindt said. “It helps address some costs due to processing delays, but we have to continue the conversation to help deal with the huge price volatility we’ve seen in the market the last three months.”
The province “is also providing up to $1.5 million to process and package surplus pork for food banks, to provide those in need with fresh, locally produced pork products,” the government statement said.