$252 million aid package is coming for the Canadian agriculture industry hard-hit by COVID-19

During his daily national address this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $252 million aid package for Canada’s farmers, food businesses, and food processors to ensure safe and reliable food supply. 

During the pandemic, the agricultural industry had suffered from an overabundance of food supplies due to restaurants closing down, which created a drop in demand for meat and dairy supplies.

Trudeau acknowledged that because of this pandemic, many businesses in the agricultural industry have worked harder to ensure the grocery stores in the country remain stocked for the foreseeable future.

The funds fall far short of the $2.6 billion emergency fund requested by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. But Prime Minister Trudeau has labelled this package as a means for the agricultural industry’s recovery during this time, and also states that this is the “initial investment” moving forward.

The aid package will not only support businesses who have had to work double the amount of work, but will also help those in specific sectors of the industry to adjust to the situation.

“Since hotels and restaurants are closed, many producers are now dealing with significant surpluses of certain goods,” Trudeau said when addressing the aid package.

“Everyone working in the food industry is working harder than ever to fill the shelves of our grocery stores and they work long hours to feed us. Workers must take additional measures to protect themselves and they must change the way they work…This is an initial investment and if we have to do more – we will do more.”

A total of $77 million will be distributed to food processors, including meat packers, to keep the workers safe while working, such as purchasing protective equipment for workers and adapt to health protocols. The money is also used to expand domestic processing capacity to deal with a backlog of livestock building up in parts of the country.

$125 million will be allocated to the national AgriRecovery fund, a federal-provincial-territorial program to help farmers in Canada, primarily to pork and beef producers so that they can adapt to the crisis at hand.

“For many farmers, this means they have to keep animals for longer periods of time and that can be expensive. We’re giving extra help to pork and beef producers so they can adapt to the crisis,” said Trudeau.

Prime Minister Trudeau has also announced the intention to increase the borrowing limit from the Canadian Dairy Commission by $200 million to support dairy farmers to deal with the temporary storage costs of cheese and butter to avoid food waste.

“We don’t have the capacity right now to redistribute such large quantities of food and some producers have no choice but to throw out their product – it’s a waste of food and a loss of revenue for people who worked so hard to produce,” Trudeau said.

Launching a $50 million fund for a purchase program for surplus food, that will be used to buy large amounts of food and send them to local organizations such as food banks who are serving vulnerable Canadians.

Such a program could help the french-fry potato and poultry industries, which have seen a huge reduction in sales due to the closures of restaurants from coast-to-coast since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The government will buy large quantities of certain products at risk of going to waste — say, potatoes or poultry — and redistribute them to organizations addressing food insecurity,” said Trudeau.

 “This will help ensure that our farmers are being compensated for their hard work and that our most vulnerable have access to fresh food during this crisis.”

Last week, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture has been warning that a financial boost is urgently needed to protect against food shortages in Canada. It asked the government for a $2.6 billion emergency fund as the pandemic continued.

When asked about this and how it was nowhere near the amount asked for, Trudeau said that as time progresses more discussion will be had with the government and the agriculture industry.

Written by: Angelo Cruz

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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