ONTARIO — During a time of uncertainty and instability for Canada’s agri-food industry, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Government of Canada announced $252 million in financial support measures for Canadian beef and pork producers and the food processing sector.
Although the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) appreciates the recognition by Prime Minister Trudeau and the federal government to support beef and pork producers across the country with immediate financial assistance, today’s announcement falls short of the critical needs of the industry.
“We are pleased to see the efforts of the federal government to provide financial support for Canada’s agriculture and food industry, but it’s evident this doesn’t measure up to our needs,” says OFA President Keith Currie. “Without additional financial assistance across the industry, our domestic food supply and the entire food value chain is in jeopardy. This is critical to our food security and the health and well-being of all Canadians.”
OFA had recently joined the call of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) in requesting immediate financial assistance from the federal government to prevent food shortages and maintain viability of the farming and food sector. CFA identified a need of $2.6 billion in government support for the agri-food industry.
The funding announcement includes $77 million to the processing sector for expanding capacity and addressing new health and safety protocols to protect employees and our food supply. The beef and pork industries were promised a $125 million split between the two sectors to help producers adjust to market unpredictability and manage surplus products. OFA looks forward to hearing more details on how and when this funding will be rolled out.
An investment of $50 million was provided to develop a surplus food purchase program that will allow farmers to be compensated for products that would otherwise go to waste due to excess amounts. It was also announced that dairy farmers would have access to a credit line to help adjust to changing market demands through the COVID-19 crisis.
“For Ontario, the investment is important in helping beef and pork producers maintain their operations through these challenging times but significant pressures remain for livestock farmers across the province,” states Currie. “It’s a good starting point for the industry, but we know many commodities in Ontario are facing unprecedented and difficult situations.”
The announced funding falls well short of addressing the critical needs of the pork industry. Ontario Pork is waiting for confirmation and details on their share of the $125 million investment and how it will impact producers.
Ontario’s pork industry, which includes 1,200 producers across the province, generates $2.8 billion in economic output and close to $950 million in gross domestic product. With 19,000 producers across the province, Ontario’s beef industry is a vital contributor to the provincial economy. The sector contributes $2.69 billion annually to Ontario’s GDP.
OFA will continue to advocate for our farm businesses in conversations with the government to seek additional support that stretches across the industry. We know Ontarians rely on the agri-food system to ensure they have steady and reliable access to safe, healthy and affordable food products. The time is now for the federal government to support farmers and the entire food value chain through this crisis.
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is the largest general farm organization in Ontario, representing 38,000 farm families across the province. As a dynamic farmer-led organization based in Guelph, the OFA works to represent and champion the interests of Ontario farmers through government relations, farm policy recommendations, research, lobby efforts, community representation, media relations and more. OFA is the leading advocate for Ontario’s farmers and is Ontario’s voice of the farmer.