COVID-19: Federal government announces support for Canada’s food supply system
On May 5, 2020, the Government of Canada announced new measures to support Canada’s food system, farmers, food processors, and food producers, and help to ensure food availability for all Canadians. They are taking action to protect the health and safety of Canadians and support the food industry while stabilizing the economy.
Targeted support will be provided to farmers, ranchers, agricultural producers, and food processors by:
- Creating a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund 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 so they can better supply Canadians with food during this period.
- Launching national AgriRecovery initiatives of up to $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19. This includes set-asides for cattle and hog management programs to manage backed-up livestock on farms, due to the temporary closure of food processing plants. This new federal funding will help beef and pork producers and processors adapt to a changing market, and help farmers and ranchers keep their animals longer before marketing.
- Announcing the intention to increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s borrowing limit by $200 million to support costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste.
- Launching a first-ever Surplus Food Purchase Program with an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories, which could include products such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.
- Working with provinces and territories to increase interim payments from 50 per cent to 75 per cent through AgriStability, a federal, provincial, and territorial program that supports producers who face significant revenue declines. This change has already been enacted in some provinces.
- Working with provinces and territories to explore possibilities 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.
Initial reactions to the announcement were mixed with some concerns that the measures do not go far enough to support this struggling sector. The Food and Beverage Team at Fuller Landau will continue to monitor for any changes or expansions to these programs.