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Alberta announces additional supports for agriculture sector

12 May 2020

As COVID-19 continues to cause mass disruptions to Canada's agriculture industry, the Government of Alberta is introducing a series of new AgriRecovery supports to help farmers and ranchers.

AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial-territorial programme intended to help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters. Initiatives are cost-shared 60-40 between federal and provincial governments.

On 5 May, the federal government launched a national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding to help cattle producers faced with extraordinary costs incurred by COVID-19. This includes $50 million for set-asides for cattle.

The AgriRecovery programme includes a new fed cattle set-aside programme that allows beef producers to hold on to slaughter-ready cattle on maintenance feed ration for several weeks, allowing the supply of animals to more evenly match demand and reduced processing capacity.

Cattle producers will be compensated for the extraordinary costs until the backed-up inventory is cleared. Currently, there are about 130,000 cattle backed up in feedlots as a result of reduced operating capacity at major beef processing plants in Alberta. This comes at a substantial cost to cattle producers.

Devin Dreeshen, Alberta's Minister of Agriculture and Forestry commented: 

“Our province provides most of the country’s beef, and the current disruption is resulting in substantial costs for our ranchers. We’re doing everything we can to ensure producers are able to stay afloat until things return to normal.”

Bob Lowe, president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association thanked the federal and provincial governments along with Canada's Agriculture Minister Bibeau and Minister Dreeshen for the additional aid, saying: 

“This is a first step and we look forward to continuing to work with the federal and provincial governments to ensure that all beef producers will receive the supports needed due to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic.”

Kelly Smith-Fraser of Alberta Beef Producers welcomed the announcement, saying:

“Alberta beef producers appreciate the commitment and leadership shown by the Government of Alberta through the contribution of matching funds to AgriRecovery for a set-aside programme to immediately support our industry. Thank you, Minister Dreeshen, for recognising the devastating impacts COVID-19 is having on Alberta’s beef industry and working together with the federal government to support the needs of producers so we can maintain our food supply chain.”

Alberta will work with federal and provincial governments to ensure money will get to producers as quickly as possible.

More details will be announced as they are available.



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