COVID-19 resources for producers

The Western Producer has compiled the following resources so readers can get the most up-to-date-information available on the COVID-19 pandemic.

WP coverage of #COVID19 can be found below. This page will be updated daily.

Saskatchewan

  • Government of Saskatchewan online Self-Assessment Tool – use the self-assessment tool as a first step to determine if you may require COVID-19 testing.
  • Provincial COVID-19 update page – Saskatchewan

Alberta

 

Manitoba

Do you want to read ANYTHING other than #COVID-19 stories? Check out our #NoCOZone:

COVID-19 Facts and information

  • Do More Ag has a comprehensive list of mental health resources available to producers across Canada:

  • Get the latest updates from the Government of Canada:

  • COVID-19 Questions and Answers for Producers – from Agriculture Canada:

  • COVID-19 information from Farm Credit Canada:

  • Get the latest data from the World Health Organization via their COVID-19 Dashboard:

WP COVID-19 coverage:

Most-recent stories are at the top of the list below. Last update – Thursday July 23, 2020 – 1530 CST

Most AgriInvest accounts less than $10,000 – Data sent to the House of Commons agriculture committee shows that most AgriInvest accounts hold less than $10,000 each.

Alta. announces reopening plan for schools – Alberta students will be back in classrooms in September unless there are major changes in the current pandemic situation.

CEBA benefit for farmers remains unclear – The federal government has no clear numbers on how many farm operators have benefitted from the Canadian Emergency Business Account program, but continues to say 67,700 farms are eligible for it.

Covid-19 will impact global food systems for years to come: FAO, OECD – Two international organizations expect COVID-19 to depress agriculture demand for years and weaken food security around the world.

COVID-19 continues to spread in Sask. – Saskatchewan health officials are warning of higher risk of COVID-19 transmission after posting the largest one-day increase in cases since the pandemic began.

Restaurants enter a new era – A University of Guelph food industry analyst said one in 10 restaurants were forced to close because of the pandemic and will likely never reopen.

Canadian ag exports benefit from COVID disruptions – COVID-19 hammered the economy in Canada and around the world, upending many supply chains and hurting much but also creating opportunities.

End of container shortage relieves exporters – Containerized shipments of pulses and other agricultural products are back on track after a temporary derailment this spring.

Webinar examines culinary industry in the Age of COVID – A University of Guelph food industry analyst said one in 10 restaurants were forced to close because of the pandemic and will likely never reopen.

Food affordability still top consumer concern: CCFI – The Canadian Centre for Food Integrity held a webinar to look at how to better earn public trust in food and farming.

Agriculture bright spot in Canadian economy – Canada’s agriculture exports will be down in 2020 but nowhere near as bad as other sectors of the economy, says Export Development Canada.

Mustard sales remain hot despite lack of stadium hotdogs – Mustard movement has been good despite a global pandemic, says an industry official.

COVID-19 pushes back Clean Fuel Standard – Canada’s ethanol industry is unfazed by Ottawa’s revelation that it is pushing back some of its greenhouse gas reduction targets in the proposed Clean Fuel Standard.

Road map needed to guide ag industry post COVID-19 – Agriculture is a major economic driver in Canada. In these troubling times, there is an opportunity to reassess what we can do to strengthen this sector. While our Canadian economy is reeling from blow after blow, agriculture can play a major role in its rebuilding.

Pulse bump may stick around – COVID-19 has disrupted the production, handling and shipment of pulses but it has also had a major positive impact for the sector.

Market tools quickly adapt to COVID – Derivatives markets in grain continue to evolve as impacts of COVID-19 and the winds of protectionism buffet the global industry.

More COVID support needed: study – A new report by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy says the level of federal government support offered to Canada’s agriculture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic has been inadequate.

Will your travel reward points survive the pandemic? – With COVID-19 stopping most travel in its tracks, few of us these days think about wonderful places that our travel rewards programs promise to take us. So what about all those points we’ve been collecting? What will they be worth when we start travelling again?

What’s next: higher taxes or program cuts? – In an attempt to bridge the economic chaos brought on by the pandemic, Canada has had to take on massive amounts of new debt, largely funded by foreign lenders.

Price may pressure beef consumption – Canadian beef consumption per capita has been gradually declining for the past decade and economic effects of the pandemic might further pressure consumer purchases, an agricultural economist suggests.

Market outlook appears promising for pork and beef – The outlook is cautiously optimistic for Canadian beef and pork trade, say industry experts, so long as the worst effects from the pandemic are over.

Federal food surplus program details coming soon: Bibeau – Detailed plans of the federal government’s food buy-back program are expected soon, according to Agriculture Minister Marie Claude Bibeau.

Slaughter is recovering but supply chain still adjusting – The livestock slaughter pace in Canada and the United States is recovering from COVID-19 temporary closures and slowdowns, but the effect on the supply chain and prices will take time to get back to normal.

Alberta’s potato stockpile 37% higher than average – Alberta has a boatload of potatoes in storage.

Alta. community creates scrub bags – When Laurie Hermary first realized scrub bags were needed for health-care workers in neighbouring communities, she immediately went work.

Sask. releases back-to-school guidelines – Saskatchewan has released its guidelines for students returning to school this fall, and there will be a few changes for those who ride the school bus to get there.

Food system shows flexibility: prof – For a couple months, Canada’s food supply system was front page news.

Agribition postpones show for this year – Canadian Western Agribition has become the latest casualty of COVID-19 restrictions.

Sask. unveils pandemic budget – Saskatchewan introduced what it called its pandemic budget June 15.

Farmers reject AgriInvest averages data – The average balance in a Canadian AgriInvest account, excluding those in Quebec, is $28,124, according to figures from the federal government. That, farm organizations say, is why asking farmers to draw those accounts down might not have the intended effect.

Rural communities feel social impact of COVID – Supply chain disruptions are causing much stress in rural Canada, says a woman who works with rural communities in her role with Ontario’s agriculture ministry.

Chicken producers tell MPs pandemic has taken its toll – Chicken Farmers of Canada told federal members of Parliament that producers have faced a “sharp decline” in sales as a result of a significant drop in food services, which represents roughly 40 percent of their market.

Malting barley acres drop as COVID hits beer sales – Malt sales are plummeting as COVID-19 hammers North American beer consumption but that will be offset by increased malt barley demand out of China, say industry officials.

Currencies rebalance as COVID chaos shifts to control – The worst of the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 shutdowns appears to be behind us and equity markets, oil prices and the Canadian dollar are recovering from the lows hit in March.

Sask. plans Phase 4 of COVID re-opening – Saskatchewan will announce its Phase 4 re-opening date next week.

Rural teacher forced to shift gears – KENDAL, Sask. — It used to all start at 6 a.m. with a flurry of activity. Wendy Weichel, a Grade 2-3 Montmartre School teacher, says the best way to describe her and her husband Craig’s pre-COVID-19 lifestyle was “high tempo.”

4-H shows fundraising spirit during pandemic – Despite changes to their activities, 4-H members have adjusted fairly well during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic sets back disease discovery – Aster yellows disease forecasting for western Canadian field crops is difficult in a normal spring, but this year it presents a whole new level of issues because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘May lose an entire generation’ – Even though she says she’s surrounded by the excitement of spring, Kendra Donnelly worries about the future.

Hot demand keeps regional abattoirs hopping – Beef has become the new bathroom tissue. It’s been flying off store shelves.

Surplus potatoes head to feedlots this spring – Mashed, baked or fried: none of these potato options are suitable for cattle, but raw potatoes can provide a win-win scenario for potato and cattle producers.

Sask. schools to re-open in fall for K-12 students – Saskatchewan students will return to kindergarten through Grade 12 classrooms this fall, the government announced today.

Funding helps beekeepers cover COVID costs – Alberta beekeepers will have access to $1 million in government funds to offset the costs of colony replacements this year.

Pandemic recovery plan suggested – One of Canada’s largest agri-food companies has laid out a five-point industry recovery plan for federal politicians to consider.

Survey finds producers feeling more stress – COVID-19 has piled more stress upon already stress-filled farmers, says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

Food self-sufficiency push prompts warning – COVID-19 has been a godsend for Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats and other food delivery companies. It’s also been a blessing for critics of the global food system.

Extra debt caused by rent payments finds restaurants in dire straits – Canada’s restaurant industry is bracing for tough times ahead, says a top official with Restaurants Canada, and a full recovery to pre-COVID sales levels may not be in the cards for a long time.

Restaurateur sees life for beef after COVID pandemic – A restaurant chain that stakes part of its reputation on serving Canadian beef sees opportunities for the beef industry despite the ravages COVID-19 has wreaked on the food service sector.

Processors called weak link – The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted both the importance and vulnerability of the domestic food system, say American agriculture and food industry leaders.

Feds must provide details to back up AgriInvest claim – Details matter when making decisions on the farm, but critical details are missing from the federal government’s inventory of Canadian farmers’ AgriInvest deposits.

Alta. to set up bid system for backlogged cattle – The Alberta government will launch a bid system to identify which cattle should be processed, helping address massive bottlenecks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-commerce changes retail picture; brings opportunities – Canada is now in week nine of the COVID-19 crisis, although it may seem as though that span has been longer — much longer.

Wheat exports hit the roof – Canada set a new weekly wheat export record in week 40 of the 2019-20 campaign, according to the Canadian Grain Commission.

Pandemic not affecting all cattle sectors equally – The beef industry has been walloped by COVID-19, but that whupping has left some parts of the system bruised and wailing while other parts are OK for now.

Food system a disaster or a success? The jury is still out – It’s so hard to tell if our farm and food system has proven itself to be an utter disaster or a screaming success. We’re too close to what’s going on right now to see it straight.

Major overhaul not needed for supply chain: observers – There have been widespread predictions that North America’s food supply chain will be radically reformed after COVID-19 passes.

Global food trade defended – Dozens of academics and reps from environmental groups have used COVID-19 as an opportunity to slam “industrial farms” and “corporate control” of food distribution and take shots at international trade.

Ag committee hears CERB hurting employers – Members of the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture and agri-food heard from industry leaders May 15 about the challenges brought on by the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

JBS adds shift to Brooks packing plant – The JBS beef packing plant in Brooks, Alta., returned to operating a second shift May 21, nearly a month after reducing activity to one shift April 22.

Pandemic fallout hits bison industry – Bison meat exports to the United States and Europe took a hit in the first three months of 2020.

COVID changes consumer attitudes – Consumer attitudes toward food are changing, in some cases rapidly, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bibeau repeats plea to farmers to use existing BRM funds – Canada’s agriculture minister is asking farmers to help her to get more support money for them.

Expecting more from gov’t a mistake – The Canadian Federation of Agriculture really set the bar high with its recent $2.6 billion aid request.

Auctions hold on through slowdown – It’s a surreal sight for auctioneer Rob Bergevin as he takes bids for cattle at Foothills Auctioneers in Stavely, Alta.

Trump asks for meat price probe – WASHINGTON (Reuters) — President Donald Trump said today he had urged the justice department to look into allegations that the meat-packing industry broke antitrust law because the price that slaughterhouses pay farmers for animals had dropped even as meat prices rose.

Trump proposes foreign cattle ban – WASHINGTON/CHICAGO (Reuters) — U.S. President Donald Trump said yesterday the United States should consider terminating trade deals under which it imports cattle as he looks to help U.S. ranchers hit hard by the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Ottawa offers more measures to help ag sector – A $100-million fund, launching in partnership with Calgary-based Forage Capital Inc., will be used “to support proven, viable companies through unexpected business disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Cattle and pork producers tell MPs $100 million for set-aside is not enough – A federal committee was told the $50 million made available by Ottawa for a set-aside program in the beef industry has already been spent, according to the Canadian Cattleman’s Association.

Food and beverage sector calls for changes to federal pandemic relief – Officials from Food and Beverage Canada told a parliamentary committee that the COVID-19 pandemic shows there is a “fundamental misunderstanding of how Canada’s food system operates” among senior policy makers.

Bibeau faces off with opposition MPs over pandemic supports – Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau confirmed to a parliamentary committee that the cost of business risk management programs would exceed its usual expense because of COVID-19.

Farmers wait for cash advances – Farmers who have been waiting far too long for their spring cash advances are going to have to be patient a little longer, says the administrator of the program.

Farmers limit ag aid praise – Farm leaders were careful last week to thank Ottawa for the $252-million aid package it announced May 5, but disappointment throughout the sector is clear.

U.S. packer shutdowns sideswipe Canadian hog farmers – It is cruel irony that Canadian hog prices are hammered lower even as the slaughter pace in this country is surprisingly resilient and pork exports are booming.

Agriculture requires more support – Overall, I have been impressed with the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has altered the lives of all Canadians in one way or another.

Grain moves at brisk pace during pandemic – Western Canadian grain handlers have seen record or near-record grain movement throughout most of March and April, says Wade Sobkowich, executive director of the Western Grain Elevators Association.

Packer outbreaks also affect urban centres – The town and the city where most workers at Alberta’s two large beef processing plants reside have faced particular challenges as cases of COVID-19 multiplied.

Sask. agrees to pay AgriRecovery for livestock – Saskatchewan will contribute its 40 percent share of the AgriRecovery program announced earlier this month for beef and pork producers.

Food companies offered COVID-19 support – Food companies, including agribusinesses, will be able to apply for relief money from a new $100 million federal fund.

Cattle producers support food banks – Saskatchewan’s two main beef organizations are working together to fight hunger.

Small slaughter plants not the answer: Unrau – About 15 years ago, Martin Unrau assumed that small slaughter plants made sense. Then he became president of the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, and that completely changed his point of view.

Calls continue for Cargill beef plant closure – Alberta’s NDP opposition continues to call for the closure of the Cargill meat processing plant in High River, Alta., saying it has failed to keep its workers safe from infection by COVID-19.

Bison market crashes down on producers – Only a couple of months ago, the price of a bison carcass was close to $5 a pound in Western Canada. Now, prices on the rail have dropped to $3.50 per lb.

Ag committee meets online, opposition critiques federal COVID response – Opposition MPs used the first meeting of the standing committee on agriculture and agri-food since the pandemic began May 5 to critique the federal Liberal’s $252 million aid package for farmers and food processors.

Researchers predict agri-food technology to grow post-COVID-19 – A researcher at the University of Guelph says the COVID-19 pandemic will spark agility — particularly related to technology — in agriculture.

COVID-19 remains quiet in southern Sask. – While cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and cause concern in northern Saskatchewan, all appears quiet in the rural south.

Packer backlog to remain problem for months – The rate of cattle processing at Western Canada’s two largest processing plants is slowly increasing but a backlog of slaughter-ready cattle is expected to pose a problem for months.

COVID over-pricing charges laid in Alberta – Hand sanitizer for $39 a bottle? 3M masks for $120? And $25 for Lysol spray?

Alta. commits to helping livestock producers through BRMs – The Alberta government will provide livestock producers with additional funds through business risk management programs, helping them stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian oilseed processors not out of the woods yet – Canada’s oilseed processing industry has navigated reasonably well through the economic storm waters caused by COVID-19.

Slaughter problems threaten beef supply – Concerns about beef availability in the marketplace continue to sizzle like steak on a barbecue.

Ethanol woes pile up for U.S. corn producers – The ethanol sector is going to be hurting for a while and that means depressed grain prices, say experts.

Declare internet an essential service – COVID-19 has highlighted the disparity between rural and urban Saskatchewan in available internet service providers and digital bandwidth.

Videos help explain food system to consumers – The grocery store has become more important than ever during the COVID-19 lockdown. Canadians are trying new recipes, baking bread and discussing what’s available at the store and what’s missing.

Prairie farmers find way to deliver local food – Small farmers in Alberta have partnered with a company to deliver local products to consumers, addressing concerns of needing food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mushroom farmers face steep COVID-19 losses – Canadian mushroom farmers say the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for many operations, with losses totalling $6.5 million.

UN body calls pandemic a threat to global food supply – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations said COVID-19 threatens global food security that must be alleviated by ensuring supply chains are not disrupted.

Foodgrains bank projects less festive this year – COALDALE, Alta. — The seeding of a growing project for the Canadian Foodgrains Bank usually doubles as a time to celebrate the new growing season and visit with the neighbours.

Manitoba potato growers reach breaking point – Some potato growers in Manitoba have reached a breaking point and not just because of COVID-19.

Craft brewers struggle to cope with pandemic – Saskatchewan’s craft brewing industry is looking for creative ways to minimize the impacts of COVID-19.

Pandemic threatens to complicate wildfire season – Given physical distancing orders, firefighters and other responders could be placing themselves at risk of the virus in addition to the physical threat of a fire.

Masks, masks and more masks – According to an Agri-Facts factsheet published by Alberta Agriculture (Agdex 086-8), the two main classes of respirators are air-purifying respirators and atmosphere-supplying respirators.

Machinery dealerships socially distancing – The COVID-19 crisis left farm machinery companies examining how to protect staff from the virus and remain operational for producers.

Organic markets unaffected by COVID – Organic grain premiums are holding up so far in the COVID-19 world, according to Mercaris.

Ranchers welcome Cargill reopening – The Cargill beef processing plant in High River, Alta., reopened May 4 with two shifts after a two-week shutdown that occurred when hundreds of its workers tested positive for COVID-19.

Sask. cattle group push direct beef sales – The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association is beefing up direct sales of beef.

Alta. NDP requests more livestock support – The Alberta NDP is urging the United Conservative Party government to provide financial support to livestock producers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Packing crisis tightens grip on ranchers, retailers – WINNIPEG/LONDON (Reuters) — There is no room on the range for cattle as slaughterhouses across North America close because of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving farmers nowhere to ship their animals.

COVID-19 forces Ag in Motion to go digital – Show organizers announced today that the gates cannot open safely to more than 30,000 visitors because of the risk of COVID-19.

Enhanced protocols in place for Alta. meat plants – The Alberta government says it’s continuing to monitor the health and safety of food processing employees after they’ve experienced some of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country.

Sask. unveils economic stimulus package – Saskatchewan today announced a $7.5 billion two-year capital plan as a way to help the province recover economically from COVID-19.

COVID-19 linked to Sask. dairy plant – Public health officials are investigating an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Saputo dairy processing plant in Saskatoon.

Livestock groups ‘deeply disappointed’ in federal aid – Canada’s cattle and hog producers say new funding from Ottawa falls short of their expectations, causing them to continue to carry a heavy financial burden during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feds improve COVID-19 ag money, provinces hesitate – The federal government has further tweaked business risk management programs and injected new cash to assist producers facing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feds announce $252 million for agriculture – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning announced $252 million in financial help for agriculture and food processing as part of the government’s pandemic response.

Livestock needs forecast to deal with bad weather – WP editorial, written prior to the May 5 funding announcement – Storm clouds have gathered over Canada’s livestock industry.

Agriculture Canada considers regional field research projects – The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted decision makers at the federal agriculture department to scale back sensitive research and suspend non-critical research in laboratories and greenhouses.

Care home restrictions scrutinized – Restrictions in long-term care homes remain largely in place as governments begin to relax the rules around COVID-19.

Slaughter facility takes measure following case of COVID-19 – One worker at Bouvry Exports in Fort Macleod, Alta., has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now quarantined at home.

Takeout Day helps restaurants as industry continues to struggle – Commodity groups have joined Restaurants Canada and are encouraging people to order take-out food once a week to support the industry in the face of COVID-19.

New report identifies short, long-term challenges of COVID-19 – The Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute has identified short- and long-term issues affecting the food system’s resilience.

CAFTA applauds WTO as Canada continues to ensure continued trade – The Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance is applauding the World Trade Organization for its commitment to stable international trade during the COVID-19 crisis.

Bibeau finds cabinet meetings ‘difficult’ in COVID-19 – The way in which the Quebec MP goes about her daily life in a COVID-19 world is drastically different than a few weeks ago.

Union fights reopening of Cargill beef plant – Efforts are underway to prevent the planned reopening of the Cargill beef processing plant in High River, Alta., slated for May 4.

Meat processing sector needs smaller players – It may not be the lowest cost, but there’s value in having food producers more directly connected to the consuming public. And there’s security in having small and medium-sized processors capture a much larger share of the market. 

Pandemic changes public’s perception of food – The food industry is pulling off nothing short of a miracle during the pandemic, according to a prominent food distribution and policy analyst.

Cargill to reopen Alta. beef plant next week – Cattle producers welcomed yesterday’s news that Cargill’s beef processing plant in High River, Alta., plans to reopen May 4, two weeks after a hiatus caused by widespread worker illnesses with COVID-19.

U.S. bison association asks for financial aid – The United States bison industry is asking for help.

Canadian farmers scolded for U.S. aid complaints – The man responsible for delivering farm aid to American farmers and ranchers says Canadian farmers need to look inward before casting outward dispersion about subsidies.

Pork sector’s calls heard but not yet answered – A spokesperson in federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau’s office said late last week the government is working “around the clock” to respond to the pandemic’s impact on farmers and agri-food businesses.

Farm Progress Show postponed – Canada’s Farm Progress Show has been postponed due to COVID-19.

Stampede cancellation will hit Alberta hard – Cancellation of the 2020 Calgary Stampede will deal a blow to the Alberta economy and also to the summer plans of professional cowboys, chuckwagon racers, volunteers and tourists.

COVID-19 likely to affect meat supply: analyst – As slaughter plants in Canada and the United States reduce line speeds, shifts or effect temporary closures to deal with COVID-19 concerns, analysts say supplies are likely to be affected.

Dairy farmers to reduce milk supply – Canadian dairy farmers say they are reducing milk production after experiencing low demand and supply chain issues.

Canola demand stable – Conventional wisdom would suggest the one agricultural commodity that could be most impacted by COVID-19 is high oleic canola oil.

Food profiteering unusual in Canada – Even if they really haven’t had good reason, many Canadians have felt food insecure lately. Access to food has been a concern. Affordability is certainly a close second.

Calgary Stampede cancelled due to COVID-19 – The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth has met its match in the COVID-19 pandemic. The Calgary Stampede, the annual rodeo, midway and western heritage showcase that draws international visitors to Alberta every year, will not be held in 2020, the first cancellation in 108 years.

Alta. NDP want public inquiry into outbreaks at meat plants – The official opposition Alberta NDP is urging the government to launch a public inquiry into the COVID-19 outbreaks at two meat packing facilities.

Status of grain commission surplus in limbo – A decision on what to do with the remainder of a $130 million operating surplus at the Canadian Grain Commission has been delayed again, this time by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign worker costs covered – The Canadian Horticulture Council says the federal announcement April 13 offering $50 million to help cover the extra costs associated with importing foreign workers to Canada this year is welcomed support.

Trading nations reach COVID-19 agreement – Major agricultural nations, including China, the European Union, Brazil, the United States and Canada, agreed April 22 to maintain open and predictable agricultural trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hog sector in crisis: federal aid requested as farms start euthanizing pigs – Canada’s hog producers are asking the federal government for an immediate direct cash payment of $20 per hog to address a cash flow crisis that has already forced some to euthanize market ready pigs.

Sask. unveils plan to lift COVID-19 restrictions – Saskatchewan’s five-point plant to re-open the province from COVID-19 restrictions will begin May 4 while maintaining current limits on public gathering size, physical distancing and travel.

Sask. issues wildfire warning – The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is warning farmers and landowners to be careful to prevent wildfires and grassfires this spring.

UFA donates 4,800 N95 masks – The United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative has donated 4,800 N95 masks to help health-care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Animal welfare group uses COVID-19 against farmers – Animal welfare groups are using the COVID-19 crisis to attack the meat packing industry and farmers who raise cattle, pigs and poultry.

Alta. NDP wants two more plants closed – Alberta’s NDP opposition today called for closure and immediate health and safety assessments at the JBS beef processing plant in Brooks, Alta., and the Olymel hog processing plant in Red Deer.

Plant closure already having an impact on cattle producers – Losses of $600 to $700 per head are already being felt in the feedlot industry as a result of Cargill’s temporary closure of its High River, Alta., beef processing plant.

Cargill closes High River beef plant – The Cargill meat processing plant in High River, Alta., which slaughters 40 percent of the cattle in Canada, announced temporary closure effective April 20.

APAS survey shines light on ag sector vulnerabilities – More than half of the Saskatchewan farmers who responded to an on-line survey last week said they are bracing for reduced farmgate revenue and lower commodity prices as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grain supply chain performing ‘pretty well’ – A top executive at Canada’s largest grain handling and exporting company says the country’s grain supply chain has performed reasonably well despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S.-Canada approach to border restrictions during pandemic well-managed – The compromise between Canada and the United States to maintain the flow of goods between the two countries while limiting the trans-border flow of people during the COVID-19 crisis is a collaborative approach that serves as a global example, trade observers say.

CFIA boosts funding to combat COVID-19 – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is spending $20 million to hire, train and equip additional staff members to limit disruptions resulting from COVID-19.

Cattle groups call for set-aside program in response to COVID-19 issues – The need for a set-aside program to manage orderly cattle slaughter has become more pressing with the loss of a shift at one of Western Canada’s largest federal processing plants.

Alta. beef plant reduces shifts over COVID – The Cargill beef packing plant in High River, Alta., has announced a temporary shift reduction as it deals with issues surrounding COVID-19.

Sask. helps oil and gas sector – Saskatchewan’s oil and gas sector is getting some help from the province as it faces COVID-19 and the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Farm leaders welcome increased federal support for temporary foreign workers – The Canadian Horticulture Council says the federal announcement April 13 offering $50 million to help cover the extra costs associated with importing foreign workers to Canada this year is welcomed support.

COVID-19 continues to bedevil packing sector – CHICAGO/WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) — At a Wayne Farms chicken processing plant in Alabama, workers recently had to pay the company 10 cents a day to buy masks to protect themselves from the new COVID-19 virus, according to a meat inspector.

CGC cancels spring-harvested canola program – Concerns over employee safety during the COVID-19 pandemic have prompted the Canadian Grain Commission to cancel a research project examining the quality of spring-harvested canola.

B.C. closes provincial parks – All provincial parks in British Columbia closed April 8 and are scheduled to remain so as the province attempts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Alberta releases COVID-19 projections – The Alberta government projects cases of COVID-19 will range from 800,000 to one million in the province, with deaths ranging from 400 to 6,600.

U.S. pork plant closure adds to concerns over food supply vulnerability – Another major meat-processing plant in the United States is temporarily ceasing production, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Wind farm construction project raises COVID-19 concerns – The proponents of a large wind energy project near Assiniboia, Sask., have moved to calm fears about an influx of temporary and out-of-province workers amid COVID-19.

Rural hospitals see changes as COVID-19 plans continue – Some hospitals in rural Saskatchewan are already making changes as the province prepares for more COVID-19 infections.

Sask. releases COVID-19 projections – Continued compliance with physical distancing and self-isolation measures are key to saving lives and protecting health care workers, says the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

Canada, U.S. farms face crop losses due to foreign worker delays – WINNIPEG, Manitoba/CHICAGO (Reuters) – Mandatory coronavirus quarantines of seasonal foreign workers in Canada could hurt that country’s fruit and vegetable output this year, and travel problems related to the pandemic could also leave U.S. farmers with fewer workers than usual.

Two Iowa meat plants close as COVID-19 outbreak spreads – CHICAGO (Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc said on Monday it shut an Iowa hog slaughterhouse after more than 24 cases of COVID-19 involving employees at the facility, in the latest disruption to the U.S. food supply chain from the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Online auction shatters record – In the midst of a global pandemic, electronic bidding and online attendance shattered past records for a Ritchie Brothers equipment auction held in Regina March 24-25.

Rural life adjusts amid pandemic – Ron Krahn’s father, Abe, wanted to go for coffee with his neighbour, but he realized meeting in person wasn’t a good idea given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safety groups develop COVID-19 plans – Farm safety organizations have developed emergency planning resources to help farmers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic fears throw wrench into ag research – COVID-19 is delaying much of society’s normal activities, but for agriculture research, “delay” might actually mean “not going to happen” this year.

Essential service designation called necessary – Provincial governments across Canada have declared professions within the food supply chain as essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic, a move that experts say will help critical goods get to people.

Shippers reassure nervous buyers – Canada’s grain customers are getting antsy about food security, say industry officials.

Amid COVID-19, grain shipments improve – Bulk grain shipments increased last week as railways continued to deliver goods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community transfer prevalent in Alta. COVID-19 cases – Another day brought one more death in Alberta from COVID-19. Another resident of the McKenzie Towne Care Centre in Calgary died early today from the virus, bringing the provincial total to nine deaths from the deadly outbreak.

U.S. farmers plan huge corn crop despite price drop, ethanol collapse – CHICAGO, (Reuters) – U.S. farmers plan to plant their biggest corn acreage in eight years this spring, saying the grain is the best option in a tough farm economy despite weak demand from the biofuel industry as the COVID-19 virus spreads.

Sask. extends crop insurance deadline – Saskatchewan farmers will have an extra two weeks to finalize their crop insurance plans this spring.

Rural health facilities part of COVID-19 plans – Rural health facilities are part of provincial pandemic plans, if COVID-19 cases overwhelm larger centres.

Alta. takes further steps to contain COVID-19 spread – An additional 56 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Alberta since yesterday, bringing the total to 542.

UPDATED: Possible COVID-19 exposure cited for partial packing plant closure – OTTAWA/WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 27 (Reuters) – Harmony Beef, an Alberta packing plant, halted cattle slaughter on Friday after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) kept some inspectors from work, due to a positive test for COVID-19 by a Harmony worker, the company said.

North America farm suppliers race COVID-19 spread for planting season – WINNIPEG, Manitoba/CHICAGO (Reuters) – North America’s biggest farm suppliers are accelerating shipments of fertilizer, seeds and agricultural chemicals to crop-growing regions in an unprecedented race against the COVID-19 virus that threatens to disrupt planting season.

B.C. cattle group cancels annual meeting – The British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association has cancelled the 2020 annual meeting slated for May 28-30 because of concerns and restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Man. sets up COVID-19 border checkpoints – Manitoba has implemented five checkpoints at border crossings to keep people informed about COVID-19.

Nine more COVID-19 cases in Sask. – There are nine more cases of COVID-19 in Saskatchewan as of March 27 for a total of 104.

Suddenly agriculture is important – A trend has developed in the business news channels over the past week that has not been hard to miss.

Food chain part of B.C. COVID-19 measures – The British Columbia minister of public safety and solicitor general has issued a series of ministerial orders under the Emergency Program Act in response to COVID-19.

Alta. reports 67 more COVID-19 cases – Another 67 cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Alberta within the past 24 hours. Twenty-eight have been hospitalized and 11 are in intensive care. Two people have died in the province from the virus.

Sask. issues COVID warning for club supper – Yesterday the Saskatchewan Health Authority advised anyone who attended the Lakeland Snowmobile Club Wilderness Rally Supper in Christopher Lake on March 14 to self isolate. Two of the more than 110 people who attended the supper have tested positive.

Feds urged to declare food supply chain essential service – Urgency is growing for the federal government to declare the food supply chain as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic, given some have warned the crisis could cause price increases and potential shortages.

Pandemic fears hit home on Sask. farm – Brock Weston is unexpectedly home helping with calving after COVID-19 ended his university semester and then laid him low.

Alta. Introduces fines for COVID violations – Alberta confirmed 61 new cases of COVID-19 in the province within the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 419. The continuing rise in cases has led the government to impose fines on violators of certain health protection requirements.

Alta. pledges $50 million for COVID-19 isolation assistance – Albertans who are self-isolating or who are sole caregivers for someone in isolation can apply for financial support from the province.

Man. sees COVID-19 jump; Sask. shrinks gathering size – Saskatchewan has placed additional restrictions on the size of gatherings allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. COVID-19 stimulus bill adds billions in support for farmers – The U.S. COVID-19 stimulus bill that U.S. senators will vote on would add $14 billion to the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corp spending authority, and authorize another $9.5 billion for U.S. farmers hurt by the fast-spreading pandemic, according to a copy of the bill’s text.

COVID-19 claims second life in Alberta; 57 new cases – A second Albertan has died from COVID-19. A woman in her 80s who was a resident of the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary died yesterday of the illness.

UPDATED: Prairie COVID cases rise – some Sask. cases now community transmitted – Four of the six new COVID-19 cases reported in Saskatchewan today are not related to travel, according to officials.

COVID-19 on the rise – Alta. has 301 cases, Sask. 66 – Cases of COVID-19 continue to rise throughout Canada and around the world even as governments closed borders and restricted movement.

North American millers, bakers scramble to satisfy bread-buying binge – North American flour mills and bakeries are rushing to boost production as the spread of the new coronavirus leads to stockpiling of staples like bread and pasta.

$5 billion in loans for farmers, ag businesses facing COVID-19 hardship – Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced important new measures to support farmers and agri-food businesses in Canada facing financial hardship due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manitoba advises cancellation of travel plans – Manitoba is reporting 20 positive cases of COVID-19 as of March 23.

Case argued that farmers markets be declared essential – Worries about food supply chains in the face of COVID-19 virus effects and restrictions have prompted the National Farmers Union to demand that farmers markets be declared as essential services.

Alberta taps celebrities to send clear message on COVID-19 – Alberta has 259 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of March 22, the provincial health department reported. Thirty-three cases were confirmed Sunday.

Canada’s stretched hospitals brace for impact – Canada’s health system is preparing for an influx of coronavirus patients in the midst of a long-running bed shortage, calling doctors out of retirement and ramping down any treatment that can wait.

Sask. announces financial support for businesses – Saskatchewan has announced a financial support plan for businesses and employees affected by COVID-19, along with more restrictions.

COVID-19 impacts on the meat trade – The Canadian beef sector has formed a cross industry team to ensure stable beef production and trade can continue under the restrictions of COVID-19.

Farm preparation in the face of COVID-19 – Farm preparation in the face of COVID-19 means making plans that are subject to change to protect people, livestock and farm assets.

Tips for hosting, attending bull sales during COVID-19 – Bull sales are scheduled across the Prairies in coming weeks and months amid the threat of COVID-19 spread.

Bull recovery expected from COVID-19 – Canadian exporters reeling from the impact of COVID-19 need to know this is likely a short-term setback, says Export Development Canada.

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