Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged a $252 million aid package for Canada’s agriculture and food industries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
During his daily press conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, the Prime Minister of Canada revealed details of the latest government stimulus package that will include measures for processors, meat-packers and food producers, among others in the agriculture industry.
“These days, everyone working in the food industry is working harder than ever to fill the shelves of our grocery stores,” said Trudeau. “They continue to work long hours to feed us and the pandemic is making things more complicated for them.”
Of the total amount promised, $77 million will be allocated towards food processors during the crisis in order to help keep workers safe with protective equipment and to allow for the implementation of new physical distancing systems in workplaces.
Trudeau also revealed that $125 million of this fund will go towards launching a national ‘AgriRecovery’ initiative to help cattle and hog producers.
“Farms and processing plants are raising more animals than the system can process, into things like steak and bacon, because of COVID-19,” said Trudeau. “For many farmers, this crisis means they have to keep animals longer than expected and that can be expensive.”
The federal government hopes that this funding can help farmers that produce pork and beef adapt to the current economic landscape.
“This is an initial investment and if we need to add more, we will,” adds Trudeau.
With many restaurants closed and wholesale food purchasing diminished, the prime minister pointed to some farmers having problems with products spoiling. In order to reduce the amount of surplus food going to waste and the correlated loss of revenue for farmers, the government is creating the “Surplus Food Purchase Program,” as part of the aid package. This program will allow the Canadian government to purchase large quantities of certain products that are at risk of going waste. Those purchased products will then be redistributed to organizations addressing food insecurity.
“This will help ensure that our farmers are being compensated for their hard work and that our most vulnerable have access to fresh food during this crisis,” said Trudeau.
The credit program will begin with a $50 million investment, but Trudeau suggests that number is subject to change. The food purchase program will provide additional pandemic support for food banks, on top of the previously-announced government investment.
Trudeau added that he hopes the Canadian government can continue working with farmers to address concerns and find “lasting solutions” to keep the agriculture industry moving forward during this crisis.
More to come.