Governments announce $5 million in aid for Ontario beef farmers

WOODSTOCK – The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $5 million in immediate, emergency assistance to help the province’s beef farmers manage costs associated with the impacts of COVID-19 and to help protect Ontario’s food supply network.

As of Dec. 21, Ontario beef farmers can apply for funding to help cover increased costs of feeding and setting aside market-ready cattle due to COVID-19 related processing delays. This funding flows from an agreement reached by the governments this spring to support these producers, in a timely manner, in the event that processing disruptions impacted the sector.

“We care deeply about the well-being of our farmers and understand the repercussions that short-term capacity reductions have on livestock producers,” said Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau.

“This is another measure we are taking to support our cattle farmers and to continue to keep high-quality and affordable meat products available to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bibeau added.

“We are continuing to work with our farmers and all the agri-food heroes in our food processing network to help them meet challenges posed by COVID-19 and to keep a steady supply of safe and nutritious foods available for Ontario families,” said Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman,

“This is just one of the many ways our province continues to support farmers during COVID-19 and builds on the efforts we have already made in working with the agri-food sector to address urgent needs,” he added.

The Canada-Ontario COVID-19 Beef Emergency Feed Maintenance Initiative is being offered through AgriRecovery, under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The provincial contributions are part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 which will provide funding support for eligible farmers. Additional details on program mechanics will be released soon. Agricorp will deliver the programming and receive applications.

“I commend the federal and provincial governments for moving swiftly to ensure this tool and funding support was made available to Ontario cattle producers to help mitigate the impact of the disruptions we’ve experienced at processing,” said Beef Farmers of Ontario president Rob Lipsett.

“BFO is committed to working with both levels of government and our industry partners on other measures to help address the current challenges facing our sector.”

This funding is in addition to other supports launched this year to assist the agri-food sector in meeting challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes:

– a $4 million initiative to improve capacity for meat processors;

– a portal to connect farms and other agri-food sector business with labour needs to job seekers;

– creation of a  $26.6 million enhanced agri-food workplace protection program;

– a commitment of $25.5 million to help minimize COVID 19 exposure risks in the workplace and support the province’s food supply chain through the Agri-food Prevention and Control Innovation Program; and,

– a recent investment of an additional $50 million into the Risk Management Program, one year earlier than originally promised.

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed cost-share support to approximately 4,200 projects through a partnership to help eligible Ontario farmers, farmers  processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.