The Alberta government will provide livestock producers with additional funds through business risk management programs, helping them stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province announced today it will assist fed-cattle producers through AgriRecovery, as well as increase assistance to hog and potato producers through AgriStability.
Alberta’s initiative follows the federal government’s funding announcement of $252 million for agriculture, particularly for farmers who’ve been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within the initiative, up to $125 million will be available through AgriRecovery for cattle and hog producers. This includes $50 million in set-asides for cattle.
With AgriRecovery, Ottawa will cover 60 percent of the total share and is expecting the provinces to cover 40 percent.
Alberta has agreed to cover 40 percent.
Agriculture minister Devin Dreeshen said today the province expects fed cattle producers enrolled in AgriRecovery will receive a total of $43 million, with $17 million coming from the Alberta government and $26 million from Ottawa.
Premier Jason Kenney said the funds will provide cattle with a maintenance diet for nine weeks, allowing the supply of cattle to match demand and reduced processing capacity.
There are about 130,000 cattle backed up in feedlots because of reduced operating capacity at Alberta’s major beef processing plants. It’s caused costs to substantially increase for cattle producers.
Dreeshen said Alberta is offering to administer the cattle program for Saskatchewan and Manitoba, given Alberta produces the most beef.
The government is also increasing the interim payment under AgriStability from 50 percent to 75 percent for hog and potato producers.
The government said this will provide pork producers enrolled in the program with up to $25 million or $20 per head immediately. Alberta accounts for 10.4 percent of Canada’s hog production.
Potato growers with AgriStability will also be able to receive an interim payment of 75 percent.
The government is also looking to access additional cash through the federal government’s food surplus program. It would allow food banks to buy surplus products.
The Potato Growers of Alberta has estimated the province has $70 to $80 million worth of potatoes in storage, largely because of extremely low french fry consumption.
Bob Lowe, president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, thanked the federal and Alberta governments for the support.
In a news release, he said this is a first step, and looks forward in continuing to work with the governments.
Kelly Smith-Fraser, chair of the Alberta Beef Producers, also thanked the province for matching funds through AgriRecovery.
Dreeshen said the government is looking to support beekeepers by helping them build their hives.
The province is also looking to support the horse racing industry.
Details on plans to help beekeepers and horse racing are slim, but the government plans to announce more information when it’s available.