April 3, 2020
Like you, I am concerned about how we will recover from this unprecedented pandemic and the agrifood industry is no exception to the financial strain we are seeing across the country right now. Canadian farmers and food businesses work hard so Canadians have quality food on their grocery store shelves and kitchen tables. In these times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make sure that they are supported so they can continue providing the good, healthy food that nourishes our families.
Recently, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced important new measures to support farmers and agri-food businesses in Canada facing financial hardship due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Farm Credit Canada will receive support from the Government of Canada that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cashflow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time.
In addition, all eligible farmers who had an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan. This important measure, which represents $173 million in deferred loans, will help keep more money in farmers’ pockets during these critical months. The Stay of Default will also provide farmers the flexibility they need to manage their cashflow when facing lower prices or reduced marketing opportunities. Applicable farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021, as long as their total APP advances remain under the $1 million cap.
During my time on the Agriculture committee, one of our key studies was relating to mental health of farmers, and supporting mental wellness with the unique challenges farm families face: unknown weather forecasts, input price fluctuations, commodity prices, and isolation. Now we have a global pandemic, in addition to this. Farmers and farm families are resilient, but it is important to call for help when needed and also to know the government is here for you now again during this difficult time. Access to the 24/7 help line at www.here247.ca or 1-8444-437-3247, kids help line 1-800-668-6868, or download the self care app WoeBot wherever you get your apps. Most importantly stay in touch with family, friends, and neighbours. And reach out to your MP as well! For the most up to date information visit www.canada.ca
The Government of Canada remains committed to supporting Canada’s agricultural sector to ensure that farmers and businesses have the support they need to provide for their families and all Canadians during this critical time.
“Farmers and food producers work hard to put food on tables across our country, and they should not have to worry about being able to afford their loan payments or having enough money to support their own families. We are taking action now to give them more flexibility to meet the challenges ahead in these times of uncertainty.”
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“Like many Canadians, I am truly grateful for our farmers and food business owners and employees, who continue working hard so we all have quality food on our grocery store shelves and kitchen tables. Their continued work is essential to our plan to manage COVID-19. The measures announced today will provide farmers and food producers across the country with important financial flexibility they will need during these challenging times.”
The Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Member of Parliament for Guelph