The federal government is set to announce financial support for farmers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a May 5, 2020 story. (Pixabay file photo)

The federal government is set to announce financial support for farmers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, in a May 5, 2020 story. (Pixabay file photo)

Feds to unveil emergency aid for agri-food sector hit hard by COVID-19

More support in coming weeks

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is expected to announce today significant, targeted financial support for farmers hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement will come just as some farmers are making decisions about whether to plant crops and others are considering whether they need to cull their cattle, pigs and poultry because of the reduced capacity of meat processing plants, which have proven particularly vulnerable to the spread of the deadly coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The federal government has taken some small steps to cushion the blow to farmers but Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau has been promising for several weeks that more aid is coming.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has been warning that financial assistance is urgently needed to protect against food shortages in Canada.

Two weeks ago, the federation urged the government to make food security a top priority, second only to protecting the health of Canadians.

“It was a large step to take, and while CFA does not mean to cause panic about food insecurity, we felt like there was no other option as our sector is at a tipping point where the consequences of a lack of meaningful support from our federal government will impact our domestic food supply,” federation president Mary Robinson said in a statement issued on April 20.

“As farmers make crop and animal production plans for 2020, we need to feel confident that we will not go broke due to COVID impacts on our farms and the food supply chain, that instead government has our backs.”

Robinson complained that the government has committed $500 million to other hard-hit sectors of the economy, including arts and sports, while just $50 million has been so far devoted to helping farmers cover the cost of isolating temporary foreign workers who enter the country to work on farms.

“It is beyond frustrating to see our industry, that is both foundational and integral to the long term success of our country, seems to be largely ignored.”

Bibeau has pointed out that some farmers are eligible for previously announced emergency financial assistance and existing farm income stabilization programs.

But the federation has been calling for the creation of an emergency preparedness fund specifically for farmers dealing with increased expenses and obstacles due to the pandemic.

It also wants changes to existing risk management programs so they are more responsive to farmers’ needs. And it wants the federal government to ensure farmers and food processors have the personal protective equipment they need to protect their own health.

As well, the federation has called for federal incentives to encourage unemployed Canadians to work on farms.

Today’s announcement comes one day after the Cargill meat processing plant near High River, Alta., re-opened after closing on April 20 as COVID-19 swept through the plant.

More than 900 of Cargill’s 2,000 workers have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. One worker has died.

The union that represents the workers is asking a court to stop work at the plant and has also filed unfair labour practice complaints against Cargill and the province of Alberta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 5, 2020.

AgricultureBusinessCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta reported its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases since December 16 on Friday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Alberta reports 1,521 additional COVID-19 cases, 674 new variant cases

Daily case total the highest since mid-December

Tyler Campbell, 28, pleaded guilty last November to manslaughter for shooting Ponoka’s Jeffery Kraft, 20, on Dec. 15, 2019 on a rural road just outside Lacombe. Kraft’s supporters were outside the Red Deer provincial court on Tuesday. (Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
Man who pleaded guilty to killing Ponoka man in 2019 seeks new lawyer

Tyler John Campbell expected to apply to change guilty plea after judge rejected suggested sentence

(Black Press file photo)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not pilot new curriculum

Says it will participate ‘when appropriate’

File Photo
Fire restrictions in place for Red Deer and Lacombe Counties

Fire restrictions may be elevated to a fire ban at anytime, Lacombe County says

A cross made out of hockey sticks at a makeshift memorial is silhouetted against the setting sun at the intersection of a fatal bus crash near Tisdale, Sask., on Monday, April, 9, 2018. A virtual tribute is planned to mark the third anniversary of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
VIDEO: Humboldt Broncos team to be honoured on third anniversary of fatal bus crash

16 people died and 13 were injured when a semi-trailer ran a stop sign into the path of the hockey team’s bus

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Stettler’s own Renegade Station is kicking off the spring season with a brand new single - to be released April 9th. (Photo submitted)
A brand new single is on the way from Stettler-based band Renegade Station

Free Free Free hits all streaming platforms on April 9th

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau waits for a virtual meeting to begin with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Ottawa, Friday February 26, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ottawa mulls exempting more workers from Canada-U.S. border shutdown: Garneau

Canada-U.S. border has been closed to people travelling for vacations and other non-essential visits since March 2020

A worker smooths concrete at a construction site in Toronto on January 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Economy adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls: Statistics Canada

Figure released this morning outpaced the 259,000 gain seen in February

FILE - This file photo dated July 10, 1947 shows the official photograph of Britain’s Princess Elizabeth and her fiance, Lieut. Philip Mountbatten in London. Buckingham Palace says Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, has died aged 99. (AP Photo/File)
Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies at 99

Philip spent a month in hospital earlier this year before being released on March 16

Campbell River city council will continue its 2020 policy of waiving late fees and NSFs. (Mirror File photo)
53% of Canadians teetering the brink of insolvency: survey

A majority of Canadians admit they’re just $200 away from not being able to pay their monthly bills

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney listens as the 2021 budget is delivered in Edmonton Alta, on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Kenney faces criticism from doctors, his own caucus, over new COVID-19 health rules

Alberta now has more than 10,000 active cases, about 43 per cent are variants

Josee Cabral is seen in her office in Chateauguay, Que. on Thursday, March 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Watch the details to help avoid financial headaches when filing your tax return

Small, easily avoidable mistakes could end up costing you if you’re not careful

Most Read