Government initiative aims to mitigate consequences of pandemic
Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Marie-Claude Bibeau, and Quebec’s Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, André Lamontagne, announced the creation of the Canada-Quebec Livestock Assistance Initiative, CA$21.8 million in financial assistance intended to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 in 2020-21. The initiative falls under the AgriRecovery response framework, which is part of the suite of business risk management programs of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
In the spring of 2020, the rate of livestock slaughter slowed considerably. This has forced producers to keep the animals longer and has resulted in significant additional costs for them, in addition to posing risks to the health and welfare of the animals. The slowing of slaughter is the result of sanitary measures and the absence of some workers affected by the coronavirus, as well as a substantial drop in demand for large game meat caused by the reduction and cessation of hotel and restaurant activities.
“The health crisis caused by COVID-19 continues to put stress on food producers and processors and affect their operations,” Bibeau said. “We are aware of the challenges they face and we are working with the Government of Quebec to financially support Quebec’s cattle, pig and large game producers. This initiative will help, among other things, to offset the costs generated by the temporary closure of certain slaughterhouses, to ensure animal welfare, and to preserve the food security of the people of Quebec and Canada.”
The assistance aims to offset part of the costs borne by livestock producers to keep animals awaiting slaughter on farms until normalcy is restored. La Financière agricole du Québec will manage applications for the Initiative until the assistance is paid.
Producers of feeder pigs, slaughter steers and large game are eligible for this assistance. The business must have kept its animals on the farm for a longer period than expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from the start of the pandemic until the end of the period concerned, which ended on March 31. Businesses will be able to register for the initiative as of May 10. The deadline for registration is July 30.
The establishment of the Canada-Quebec Livestock Assistance Initiative fits into the objectives of the 2018–25 Biofood Policy – Feeding Our World. It aims to support risk management and value chains by helping to maintain and adapt financial tools for agricultural risk management to cope with climate hazards and market conditions.