The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canada’s food system, farmers, food processors, and food producers, and helping to ensure food availability for all Canadians. We are taking action to protect the health and safety of Canadians, support our industries, and stabilize the economy.
Emergency Processing Fund
The government will create a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to support Canadian food processors. This funding will help food processors manage new challenges, access more personal protective equipment (PPE), and adapt to health protocols. It will also help food processors reopen or upgrade facilities for domestic food processing, or modernize or automate plants that have closed or are operating at less than full capacity. The funds will support food processors as they adjust operations and continue production during the COVID-19 crisis.
National AgriRecovery initiatives
In order to manage extraordinary disaster costs for cattle and hog producers, the Government of Canada will provide up to $125 million for national initiatives under AgriRecovery. Currently, AgriRecovery helps to manage additional costs associated with extraordinary disasters. It is normally triggered by provinces and is cost-shared 60/40; however, given the urgency of need, the federal government will provide the federal share without requiring provincial contributions. The federal government will cover 90 per cent of eligible extraordinary costs, up from 70 per cent. These changes will be in place for the 2020-21 fiscal year to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
- Cattle Set-Aside Program: As a result of the reduced capacity at beef processing plants, cattle must be kept longer in feedlots and inventories managed in order to avoid further backlogs. This initiative will establish a set-aside program to cover extraordinary costs associated with delayed processing of these animals over a 20-week period.
- Hog Recovery Program: While backlogs at processing plants continue, there is little flexibility to maintain hogs at the farm past their standard lifecycle. To help address these imminent challenges, this program will cover extraordinary herd management costs, such as additional feed costs.
Additional dairy borrowing capacity
The Government of Canada intends to provide the Canadian Dairy Commission (CDC) with an additional borrowing capacity of $200 million to support costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste. The government will work with all parties towards achieving the required legislative change.
This builds on the CDC’s existing programs to help the industry balance supply and demand variations. Pending parliamentary approval, modifications to the Canadian Dairy Commission Act would be made to increase the CDC borrowing capacity from $300 million to $500 million. This change would apply from the current operating year, which ends July 31, 2020. This will enhance the CDC’s capacity to purchase and store butter and cheese from processors under a contractual commitment that they will repurchase the cheese at the same price, at a later date, when it can be marketed.
Surplus Food Purchase Program
The Government of Canada will invest an initial $50 million in a Surplus Food Purchase Program designed to redistribute surplus commodities, which could include products such as potatoes and poultry.
The impacts of COVID-19 have resulted in both the accumulation of significant surpluses of certain agricultural commodities and food products, and an increase in demand for food on food banks and other food security organizations in communities across Canada. The Surplus Food Purchase Program will help to address these imbalances by providing new funding to national food recovery agencies organizations for the repurposing and redistribution of existing and identified surplus food. This will be done in a manner that respects the needs and health of vulnerable populations in Canada, fairly compensates agricultural producers and agri-food processors, maintains positive relationships with community food providers, and supports efforts to reduce food waste.
Support for agricultural producers through AgriStability
The Government of Canada will work with provinces and territories to authorize an increase in AgriStability advance payments from 50 to up to 75 per cent to provide urgent support directly to agricultural producers all across Canada. The federal government welcomes interested provinces and territories to participate. This change has already been enacted in some provinces, including British Columbia, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Prince Edward Island, and Alberta.
This will help producers’ cash flow when they expect to suffer losses of over 30 per cent of their historical margin, and builds upon the Government’s recent decision to extend the AgriStability enrollment deadline to July 3, 2020. As AgriStability is a 60/40 cost-shared program with the provinces and territories, the federal government will cover 60 per cent of these expenditures, with provinces and territories able to provide the remaining 40 per cent.
AgriInsurance program flexibilities for the horticulture sector
The Government of Canada is working with the provinces and territories to explore possibilities to allow insufficient labour to be treated as an eligible risk, on a one-time basis for this crop year, under the AgriInsurance Program.