The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is asking the federal government for “immediate, meaningful help” for Canada’s food and farming industry.
During a press conference, Mary Robinson, president of the CFA, warned that without immediate assistance from the federal government, the Canadian agriculture sector cannot ensure our domestic food supply will remain secure for the immediate and long-term benefit of all Canadians. The industry has reached a “tipping point,” she says.
In response, the CFA is asking the federal government for two things to instill the “necessary confidence” for the farming sector to continue planting and growing food for Canadians, with an assurance that there will be people to help with harvest and a logistics system in place to distribute food and food products.
First, the CFA wants the government to address the on-going labour shortage and market unpredictability. “Unfortunately, this spring, many Canadian farmers do not have enough workers to consider planting a 2020 crop. Labour was already a critical issue before the pandemic and has now escalated to the point that both farmers and food processors are worried that even if planting does proceed, harvesting and processing may not be possible without sufficient labour. We face the possibility that crops will rot in the fields, as is now happening in other countries,” Robinson says.
Second, CFA and its members are asking the government to create an Emergency Fund or financial backstop so farmers in need can access funds to help them overcome mounting costs.
Canadian farmers need to hear a clear commitment from the government to instill necessary confidence for the 2020 planting season, CFA says.
“Canadian farmers are dealing with significantly increased costs associated with purchasing the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) for their workers. In addition, due to meat processing plant closures, farmers are being forced to keep and feed their livestock for an extended period of time. Canadian farmers are feeling increasingly stressed, with some farmers so worried about the mounting challenges, they are strongly considering stopping their farming operations to stave off financial disaster,” Robinson says.
CFA has not placed a dollar figure for the Emergency Fund.