Funding flows for Ontario cattle set-aside program days after Better Beef plant closure

Updated story: Details of the program are now listed on Agricorp’s website

The governments of Canada and Ontario have committed $5 million in immediate, emergency assistance for the province’s beef farmers through funding for feeding costs associated with market-ready cattle that must be set-aside due to COVID-19-related processing disruptions.

Last Thursday, Cargill’s Better Beef plant at Guelph closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The plant processes up to 9,000 head of cattle per week.

Starting Monday, December 21, 2020, Ontario beef farmers can apply for funding to help cover increased costs of feeding and setting aside market-ready cattle due to COVID-19 related processing delays.

“I commend the federal and provincial governments for moving swiftly to ensure this tool and funding support was made available to Ontario cattle producers to help mitigate the impact of the disruptions we’ve experienced at processing,” says Rob Lipsett, president, Beef Farmers of Ontario. “BFO is committed to working with both levels of government and our industry partners on other measures to help address the current challenges facing our sector.”

This funding flows from an agreement reached by the governments this spring to support these producers, in a timely manner, in the event that processing disruptions impacted the sector, Ontario says in a press release.

“We care deeply about the well-being of our farmers and understand the repercussions that short-term capacity reductions have on livestock producers,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This is another measure we are taking to support our cattle farmers and to continue to keep high-quality and affordable meat products available to Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We are continuing to work with our farmers and all the agri-food heroes in our food processing network to help them meet challenges posed by COVID-19 and to keep a steady supply of safe and nutritious foods available for Ontario families,” says Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “This is just one of the many ways our province continues to support farmers during COVID-19 and builds on the efforts we have already made in working with the agri-food sector to address urgent needs.”

Agricorp will begin taking applications for the program as of Monday, December 21. Producers can apply for up to 63 days of coverage for cull animals and fat animals, up to a maximum of 500 animals per intake. Full details can be found here.

*Edit: Beef Farmers of Ontario says the first intake for the Beef Emergency Feed Maintenance Initiative (Ontario Beef Cattle Set-Aside Program) will open on Monday at 9 a.m. and will close on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Both market ready fed cattle and cull cows will be eligible for enrolment. Further details will be posted on Agricorp.com soon. Farmers can contact [email protected] for login details or call the BFO office at 1.866.370.2333.

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