May 5, 2020 By Fruit and Vegetable
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture asked the federal government to provide an Agriculture and Agri-Food Emergency Fund of $2.6 billion to help maintain food security in Canada in response to COVID-19.
This amount is based on estimates of the immediate impacts of COVID-19 provided by agricultural commodity groups across the country. The emergency fund is required because of the shut down of the food service sector, processing plant closures and other supply chain disruptions and increases in labour and associated costs.
It should be noted that this figure was representative to the losses as of last week and losses and additional costs will continue to mount as farmers deal with the impacts of COVID-19, highlighting the continued importance of enhancing AgriStability support.
This emergency funding is for impacts which are not eligible under any of the government programs announced to date to combat the impacts of COVID-19. These extraordinary costs are also not covered by existing Business Risk Management programs offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
This emergency fund for immediate impacts of COVID-19 should only be seen as the first phase of emergency funding, to persevere through the issues the sector is facing today. It is very probable that more support will be required in the coming year as unforeseen challenges continue to emerge throughout the food supply chain. Additional funding will be required to maintain food security in Canada.
“Imagine if six months ago someone had told Canada to stock up on face masks, ventilators and personal protective equipment, our nation would be in a much stronger position to weather this storm. A month ago, we offered our government a similar warning for a different looming problem, the potential collapse of components of our food supply chain. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ could never be more true,” said Mary Robinson, president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, in a released statement.
“We understand that the entire country is under duress. Agriculture is a unique player in our economy. Not only does agriculture create value for our economy, act as stewards of our environment and employ over two million Canadians, agriculture also provides us the unique benefit of food – not only for Canada but for the world at large,” Robinson added.
“Planting season is happening right now. Mother Nature waits for no one. Farmers need to have the financial confidence that they will not be facing bankruptcy due to impacts of COVID-19. Like the rest of the country, we’ve been watching our government announce new assistance for many other sectors almost daily since the pandemic began, and farmers are appalled as they watch an essential service and critical infrastructure such as food production and processing being largely ignored. The time for the government to act is now. Canadians should be concerned,” Robinson concluded.
In an effort to show Canadian’s support for the food industry, CFA has created a letter-writing campaign website to help Canadian’s show their support for Canadian food. CFA urges you to use this website to email your MP and give a concentrated, unified message on the importance of food security in Canada.
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