Canada and the U.S. have experienced very similar paths of food system disruption due to COVID-19. Both countries have seen the fall in restaurant demand and packers going offline, followed by milk dumping, animals being euthanized, and consumers hyperventilating over shortages of toilet paper and ground beef.
Although they’ve experienced the same impacts and stress on farmers and ranchers, both countries have definitely dealt with it differently.
The Canadian government has focused on limited special programming besides the C$252 million dollars to fund food purchases and a set-aside program. Instead, the Trudeau Liberals have tried to encapsulate agriculture into broader mainstream programs as well. The government has had a hard time understanding why the diverse agricultural industry has not been enrolling in current business risk management programs. This has been used as leverage against the need to provide direct assistance.
In the U.S., farmers are currently applying for assistance in the US$19 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) program on top of the mainstream programs that also apply to the industry. Even though direct assistance has been more common in the U.S., farmers still seem just as concerned and unhappy as the Canadian farmers that have received no ad hoc programs, in my opinion. Keep in mind it’s an election year for President Trump and justifying payments to growers has become a favourite mention in campaign stump speeches over the last three years.
Outside of compensation to farmers, both countries seem to be on similar paths to ensure that the food supply chain recovers to “normal” levels as soon as possible.
This week I was a guest on Farm Journal Live, hosted by AgDay’s Clinton Griffiths, and we discussed the similarities and differences between how the U.S. and Canada have dealt with agriculture through this COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch Shaun Haney’s discussion with Clinton Griffiths below or watch the entire show by clicking here: