While the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) welcomed today’s announcement from the federal government for $252 emergency funding, the amount is not enough on its own to avert negative impacts to Canadian food supply in the coming months. The Prime Minister intimated more assistance will be made available as needed.
On behalf of more than 200,000 farm families across the country the CFA has been increasingly vocal over the past two weeks as the impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian agriculture continue to intensify. Farmers have been hit hard from all angles with rising operational costs, reduced processing plant capacity and closures, significant labour shortages and impacts from major reductions in the food service industry all undermining the viability of food producers and processors.
“Farmers are making decisions today on how confident they should be investing in further food production this year. They are making decisions right now that will have a direct impact on the variety and cost of domestic food availability for everyday Canadians. With such huge uncertainty in our sector and lack of a firm financial backstop, in essence we are asking our farmers to put themselves and their farms at risk to grow food for Canada. Many farmers are facing the reality that these risks are too great, and are having to modify their food production plans,” said Mary Robinson, President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
“As a country we cannot allow this to happen,” she added.
CFA worries that the government’s position on using existing Business Risk Management programs, such as AgriStability, before rolling out additional funds will result in support arriving too late to make a substantial and positive impact on domestic food security.
These programs already had gaps and inequities in coverage between commodities, and this approach guarantees commodities that fall within those gaps will be hit hard, with some never recovering.
“We understand that we aren’t the only ones asking for help right now. Many sectors and industries are in desperate need of support. However, after healthcare, there is nothing more important for Canada during this pandemic than domestic food security,” said Robinson.
“We know that when the dust settles on this pandemic and we look to begin the long process of economic recovery, a robust agriculture and food sector will be a sector we can count on to be a positive, economic driving force. We must ensure to take the care and investment now to set us up to continue to feed this nation and recover from the required, unprecedented expenditures of today.”
“We are asking Canadians for help. Tell your MP that you value food grown and made in Canada. Tell them Canadian farmers need the financial confidence to invest today so our nation can eat tomorrow.”
Last week on behalf of the Agri-Food sector, the CFA outlined an Agri-Food Emergency Fund to maintain food security for Canada. The $2.6B ask was submitted to government to address critical, acute challenges facing a wide range of agricultural commodities from across the country. While the $252M announced today by the government is welcomed, it falls well short of what’s needed to guarantee Canada’s food system for Canadians and the world.
Laurie Karson, CFA Director of Communications
613-236-3633 ext. 2322