Canada approves one tenth of the requested COVID-19 aid for agriculture sector

Canada will invest $252 million CAD to help farmers and food processors weather the coronavirus slump.
calendar icon 6 May 2020
clock icon 2 minute read

According to Reuters, industry groups say the funding falls short of what is needed. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA), one of the country’s biggest farm groups, asked last week for 10 times the amount that was approved, an initial $2.6 billion CAD in emergency funding, to cover industry losses and costs.

While some of Canada's 10 provinces are beginning to reopen after lockdowns to fight the coronavirus, demand for many food products has dropped since mid-March, with most restaurants and bars shuttered.

"We will continue to work... to ensure that our food capacity in this country and these people who work so incredibly hard every single day to feed Canadians get the support that they need," Trudeau told reporters, adding that the government could provide more money if needed.

Industry groups immediately called for more aid.

"If your house is burning down and I offered you a bucket of water to put it out, you're probably going to have an issue," said CFA President Mary Robinson in an interview with CTV News.

About 40 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses in the farm and food sector have seen a significant demand drop, Canadian Chamber of Commerce President Perrin Beatty said.

Tuesday's announcement, he said, was a "first step," but falls "short of what the sector needs and will lead to delays in the ability of agriculture firms to address the impacts of COVID-19." Canada's total coronavirus death toll rose to 3,915 on 5 May, up about 4 percent from 3,766 on the previous day, according to official data.

Several food processing plants, have had to temporarily shut down after workers became infected with COVID-19.

Trudeau said beef and pork producers, who have been forced to keep livestock on farms longer because of processing shutdowns, will receive $125 million CAD in disaster relief funding.

Food processors will get $77 million CAD to help buy personal protective equipment for workers, adapt to health protocols or increase processing capacity, while the Canadian Dairy Commission will see its credit increased to $200 million CAD.

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