Dear Minister of Agriculture,
Food insecurity, the fear or reality of not having enough to eat, is not something I ever would have thought possible in a country like Canada.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s farmers and food producers are in serious trouble without proper assistance now from the Federal Government.
While workers and businesses are receiving grants, the people responsible for putting food on our dinner tables are being offered only more debt.
The new, interest free loan that is being offered to all businesses who qualify, barely cover one month’s farm expenses for feed costs, let alone all the other input costs associated with farming.
Even worse, if farmers use their personal bank account, and not an expensive business account, they don’t even qualify for the $40,000 loan other businesses can get.
The pandemic has already wreaked havoc on the food supply chain.
Seven cattle processing plants in Canada have been shut due to COVID-19 outbreaks among workers, meaning farmers are forced to keep thousands of cattle longer of feedlots, increasing their costs.
In the hog industry, processing has created unmanageable backlogs, forcing farmers to dispose of thousands of pigs they can’t afford to keep feeding.
Planting season has already arrived for farmers, and many farmers do not have the necessary workers to fill their labour needs.
Dairy farmers are being forced to dump thousands of litres of milk because they could not get it to market.
Minister, Canada is at risk of losing 15% of our farms by year end if something is not done now.
Farmers need some assurance that they can grow and plant their crops this spring.
They need to know they can send their livestock or other products like milk to market.
They need to know the COVID-type stressors have been recognized.
I urge you to act now, and provide our farmers with the financial support they need to keep Canadians fed.