Announcing additional support for the agricultural sector
Before we get started, I want to note that today marks the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands.
On this day, we remember the Canadians and Newfoundlanders who liberated the Netherlands from the tyranny of the Nazis.
We also pay tribute to the deep bonds that were forged between Canada and the Netherlands.
We honour the incredible courage and sacrifice of our veterans in whom we are forever in their debt.
Time and time again, Canadians step up in periods of crisis to help each other and to help our friends.
We saw it 75 years ago on the battlefields of the Second World War and we’re seeing it once again during this pandemic.
These days, people in the food industry are working harder than ever to stock the shelves of our grocery stores.
They continue to work long hours to feed us, but the pandemic is making their job that much harder.
Workers need to take extra precautions to protect themselves. They need to change their ways and maintain physical distance.
And since hotels and restaurants are closed, many producers are left with large surpluses of certain products.
From the beginning, we said we were going to be there for those who need a hand.
So today, we are announcing a new investment of more than $252 million to help the agri-food sector get through this crisis.
Of that amount, more than $77 million will be allocated to food processors to protect the safety of their workers.
This is money they will be able to use to buy more personal protective equipment, adapt their health protocols and support other social distancing measures.
It will also allow processors to adapt their plants so that more products can be produced in Canada.
Today, we’re announcing more than $77 million to support food processors during this crisis.
This is money that they can use to purchase personal protective equipment for workers, adapt to health protocols, and support other social distancing measures.
It will also help expand or adapt our processing capacity to increase the amount of Canadian products we make domestically.
To help cattle and hog producers, we are launching AgriRecovery, a $125 million national initiative to help producers adapt to changing market conditions.
Farms and hog farms are producing more animals than our system can process into consumer products such as steak and bacon because of COVID-19.
So animals have to be kept on the farm longer than anticipated - and that’s expensive.
The funding we’re announcing today will help beef and pork producers adjust to the crisis.
It’s a first investment, and if we have to do more, we will do more.
To help cattle and hog producers, we will launch a $125 million national AgriRecovery initiative.
Farms and processing plants are raising more animals than the system can process into things like steak and bacon because of COVID-19.
For many farmers, this crisis means that they have to keep animals for longer periods of time – and that can be expensive.
So with this funding, we’re giving extra help to beef and pork producers so that they can adapt to this crisis.
This is an initial investment and if we need to add more, we will.
With respect to dairy farmers, we intend to work with all parties in the House to increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s line of credit by $200 million.
The Commission already has a program in place to store and preserve dairy products.
It has been storing butter and cheese since the beginning of the crisis and expects to reach its maximum capacity soon.
By increasing the Commission’s line of credit, we can prevent the loss of fresh Canadian products and help dairy producers deal with the consequences of the crisis.
With hotels and restaurants closed, too much of certain types of foods – like milk, butter, and potatoes – is being produced.
While some donations have been made to food banks, we don’t have the capacity right now to redistribute such large quantities of food.
And some producers have no choice but to throw out their product.
It’s a waste of food and a loss of revenue for the people who worked so hard to produce it.
To avoid this, we’re launching a Surplus Food Purchase Program, starting with a $50 million fund.
The government will buy large quantities of certain products at risk of going waste, like say, potatoes or poultry, and redistribute them to organizations addressing food insecurity.
This will help ensure that our farmers are being compensated for their hard work and that our most vulnerable have access to fresh food during this crisis.
Taken together, these measures represent a $252 million investment to support the people who keep our grocery stores stocked and our families fed.
I also want to take a moment to underscore the work that’s been done by Minister Bibeau in this file.
That said, we know that farmers still have concerns about what this pandemic means for their industry long-term.
Having enough workers for harvesting later in the season, having enough personal protective equipment for workers – these are valid concerns.
And I can assure you that we are working with farmers, stakeholders, and provinces and territories to find lasting solutions.
I want to close today by thanking every person who works in our food industry.
People are spending a lot more time in the kitchen, cooking for an elderly neighbour, cooking for themselves, discovering new recipes or trying to make sourdough.
These days especially, cooking and baking is about more than nourishment.
It’s also about relieving stress, finding a community, supporting each other, creating memories.
You help make that possible.
So we’re here for all of you and the agri-food industry – and we will continue to be here for you.
To all those working in the food industry – thank you for everything you’re doing for us.
We’re here for you and we will continue to be here for you.
Thank you very much.