Bibeau says additional aid for the agrifood sector imminent

The plans are “a work in progress”

Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau. (Gavin Young/Postmedia Network)

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OTTAWA – The federal government is working with the provinces and agrifood organizations on additional financial assistance measures for farmers and food processors, says Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau.

“The details will come out during the coming week,” she said during a March 21 news conference. “We are working on different things. It’s all a work in progress.”

In addition to the changes to the Business Risk Management programs the federal and provincial ministers have promised for April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in his March 18 economic assistance package government would “augment credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.”

This measure is also being worked on and should be announced in the coming days, FCC says. “In the meantime, FCC continues to work collaboratively with the Government of Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada as part of the COVID-19 Response Plan.”

Bibeau also said the far-reaching small business assistance provisions in Trudeau’s economic announcement will be available to farmers and processors.

President Mary Robinson of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture said that “Given the importance of a stable food production and distribution system throughout the pandemic, CFA will ask the Minister and the government to make food production and distribution the highest priority next to controlling and treating COVID-19.

“We will also request that the government apply an agri-food lens to all future measures it may consider taking to control the pandemic, to ensure they account for any potential negative impacts these measures may have on food production and distribution.”

She also said CFA will circulate a survey to identify any potential issues farmers may face in regards to the pandemic and convey these issues to Bibeau.

“Rest assured that the overall objective and focus of the CFA for the time required is to ensure that all Canadian farmers get through this pandemic with as little negative impact as possible.”

Parliament will resume briefly this week to debate the various measures the government has proposed to dealing with COVID-19 and protecting the economy. The session will mostly involve Parliamentarians who can drive to Ottawa.

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