Farmers may expect more help soon

Saskatchewan MP and Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale said his government is planning to use the AgriRecovery tool to help support farmers injured by the current trade issue with China.  |  Mike Raine photo

REGINA — Little known and little used, there is a fourth leg of financial support available to Canadian farmers, AgriRecovery. And government appears to be getting ready to use it.

American taxpayers have reached into their pockets in support of their farmers, sprinkling billions of dollars onto farm country that is coming up short due to a trade fight. Canada has not offered similar aid in its row with China.

Canada, so far, has been depending on its core financial recovery tools to aid farmers for damages caused by Chinese actions against Canadian farm goods. China has restricted Canadian canola imports citing pest concerns, although it is widely believed that Canada’s detention of Hauwei executive Meng Wanzhou under a United States extradition request, is the actual cause.

Trade issues related to contamination are one of the triggers for the lesser-known federal-provincial AgriRecovery program.

Ralph Goodale, federal minister of public safety and a Saskatchewan MP, said that his government is looking at implementing the process to support producers who are financially harmed by countries that are piling up pests as a trade barrier.

“We have to offer support for our farmers and make sure this unfortunate trade action doesn’t leave them vulnerable,” he said.

“It’s a part of the (Business Risk Management) suite of programs, working with the core BRM programs, (AgriInsurance, AgriStability and AgriInvest), to help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters,” he said.

“While it wasn’t maybe thought of for this sort of disaster, exactly, (AgriRecovery) can be used for it. We are being flexible in our approaches to this situation, as with changes to the cash advance programs, and working with producer groups on their suggestions to changes for AgriStability,” he said.

“AgriRecovery is there to ensure that producers are able to get back on their feet after a disaster.”

The program’s design leaves it open for use in the canola situation.

It’s defining documents state, “trade actions that are not directly related to a disease or pest event …cannot be considered.”

The program is a two-step process involving a 60-40, federal-provincial cost-sharing and planning element that examines the event, determines the costs to producers and what is needed to recover from it. It also measures the capacity of the existing programs to aid farmers in their recovery, determining what losses they have suffered that have not been covered.

Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland said trade issues and their impact on agriculture are “front and centre” in Ottawa, in large part because of Goodale’s efforts on the file.

“He has been very seized on the issue. And when Ralph is jumping up and down about something all of us in cabinet, starting with the prime m inister, really pay attention,” she said.


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