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.
The money includes $125 million in AgriRecovery for the pork and beef sectors, $77 million for food processors and packers to add personal protective equipment for workers and $50 million for a surplus food purchase program.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association had been pushing for an AgriRecovery payment, saying it would get money into producers’ hands quickly.
The announcement is a national payment, and Trudeau said more could be coming.
“This is an initial investment and if we need to add more, we will,” he said.
However, the amount is a far cry from the $2.6 billion that the Canadian Federation of Agriculture had called for to help all sectors.
Trudeau said the food purchase program will help producers dispose of extra production that might otherwise be wasted, such as potatoes and poultry.
All parties will have to work together in the House of Commons to increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s credit line by $200 million, he said, to allow it to store butter, cheese and other products.
“We will not waste fresh products, and dairy producers will be more able to deal with the consequences of this crisis,” he said.
Trudeau also said some of the money allocated to processors could be used to help plants expand and boost domestic production.
“It is not a perfect situation, by any stretch, but we are doing what we can to make sure people are rewarded for their hard work and others aren’t going hungry,” he said during his daily news conference.
He acknowledged that global supply chains have been disrupted and that the government is working hard to maintain those to major markets, particularly the United States.
“Food security is a preoccupation for everyone, and Canada is an important part of the solution,” he said.