Trade compensation details unveiled for feather sectors

The federal government says $630 million of the funding will be for on-farm investment with the remainder for market development

Canada’s chicken, egg and turkey farmers are expected to soon receive long-awaited programs that will compensate them for market losses stemming from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Producers had already been told they would be getting $691 million over 10 years, but on April 13, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau revealed details of the funding, which will come in the form of on-farm investment and market development programs.

The majority of the money, about $630 million, “will help poultry and egg farmers make any kind of investment on the farm that modernizes the operations, boosts competitiveness and meets new market demands,” according to Bibeau.

Remaining funds will be used to develop new markets and grow existing ones.

Applications open “later this spring” for the Poultry and Egg On-Farm Investment program, with eligible producers receiving an amount of money based on their quota holdings as of Jan. 1, 2021.

Projects eligible for cost-shared funding will be “anything that helps a producer modernize, become more competitive and adapt to changing consumer preferences,” for which the program will provide up to 70 percent of the cost.

For young producers — that is, age 35 or younger as of Jan. 1, 2021 — that ratio will run up to 85 percent.

Producers are able to apply for the funding when they are ready to invest, according to Bibeau. If applicants outnumber the amount of money available for the program in a specific year, payments may be delayed to other years.

The program will also consider eligible costs retroactive to the announcement of support for supply-managed sectors made on March 19, 2019, in that year’s federal budget, but federal officials caution not all previously completed projects are likely to be approved.

Upgrading equipment, increasing ventilation, building new barns, promoting energy efficiency and reducing environmental footprints were all provided as examples of potential projects.

On-farm investment funding will be distributed starting in 2021-22, the government said, with $347.3 million allocated for chicken producers, $59.6 million for turkey producers, $134 million for egg producers and $88.6 million for broiler hatching egg producers over the 10-year period.

A market development program for other supply-managed industries is also being created. Turkey Farmers of Canada is receiving $36.5 million and Chicken Farmers of Canada will get $25 million over the next 10 years.

The program is to help fund “promotional activities that differentiate Canadian-made products’ reputation for high-quality, safe and sustainably farmed food that adheres to strict animal welfare standards.”

Agriculture Canada will pick up 80 percent of the tab for eligible projects, and up to 90 percent funding for “specific projects aimed at promoting inclusiveness and diversity in the market development activities supported by the program.”

A multi-year strategy to access the funding is currently being developed by those two organizations.

Each of the supply-managed industries receiving compensation praised the government for doing so.

“The combination of these programs will allow farmers to plan for the future, navigate the unique dynamics of our respective industries, and contribute to Canada’s goals of growing our agricultural sector,” the groups said in a news release.

Bibeau’s announcement is the latest in a series of compensation packages the federal government has committed to paying out as a result of negotiating away market share when signing recent trade deals.

She said the government is committed to offering the sector further compensation, this time for losses incurred in negotiations over the new-NAFTA.

Bibeau was non-committal when asked for a timeline on that compensation.

 – With files from Dave Bedard

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