Province, feds announce emergency funding for beef, hog farmers

WOODSTOCK — The federal and provincial governments have announced emergency funding for beef and hog farmers.

The two levels of government have pledged up to $10 million to help cover the increased costs of feed market-ready cattle and hogs due to processing delays caused by COVID-19.

The funding program will also see surplus pork products redirected to those in need.

Of the $10 million, $5 million will go to the beef cattle set-aside program. Farmers can claim $2 per head of cattle per day to help pay for additional maintenance costs if they have to keep market-ready animals on their farms.

The hog sector support program will receive the remaining $5 million to help cover additional maintenance costs.

The province has also earmarked $1.5 million to process and package surplus pork for food banks, helping both those in need and the pork processing industry.

“We are grateful to our hardworking farmers who are providing Canadians with safe and healthy meat products,” said the Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada’s minister of agriculture and agri-food.

“This investment is another way we are supporting the agricultural sector to ensure a stable meat supply and keep high-quality and affordable Canadian meat products on our grocery store shelves and kitchen tables.”

Ernie Hardeman, Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs said the pork and beef sectors sent a clear message that help was needed.

“We understand the challenges that our farmers are facing and we are working with our commodity organizations to address their priorities and help our farmers manage through these unprecedented times,” he said.

Both programs are being offered through AgriRecovery initiatives under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.

Representatives for the Beef Farmers of Ontario and Ontario pork expressed their gratitude for the funding.

“This will be an important tool to have available to help manage potential disruptions within our processing sector,” said Rob Lipsett, president of the Beef Farmers of Ontario. “Having this safeguard in place, if it is ultimately needed, is critically important.”

“The announced program is an important first step in helping family pork farms to navigate this stressful situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Eric Schwindt, chair of Ontario Pork.

In May, both Wellington Federation of Agriculture president Janet Harrop and Senator Robert Black of Centre Wellington endorsed the idea of set aside programs as a means to provide short-term help to livestock producers during the current crisis.

“It’s really the only way to be able to address the economics on-farm for people who have to keep animals beyond their planned processing dates,” Harrop told the Advertiser.