Business & Policy
Bibeau has a hard row to hoe in balancing COVID-19 response
By Top Crop Manager
Federal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau asks farmers and agri-businesses to access the already available agriculture support programs before stating that it’s not enough.
Following the announcement earlier in May that the Liberal government would provide $252 million in aid for Canadian agriculture in addition to the extended borrowing limits and increases to AgriRecovery, the overwhelming response from the agricultural community was that it wasn’t enough.
At the end of April, the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) requested that the government create a $2.6 billion Agriculture and Agri-Food Emergency Fund in order to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sector.
This was intended to be an initial phase of emergency funding according to the CFA, covering the effects not eligible under the other available government programs. The CFA anticipated additional emergency funding would be needed as the pandemic continued to play out.
In a statement to the Canadian Press, Bibeau highlighted the billions of dollars available through the Business Risk Management programs which have long existed to assist in times of crisis. That these funds, along with the other emergency funds provided during the past few months, haven’t been accessed makes it difficult for her to advocate for additional financial support from the Liberal government.
“They just cannot say it is not good enough,” Bibeau said. “Please go and get this money. Then it will be much easier for me to identify the gaps and to get the money where it should be going.”
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Bibeau’s department, noted last Friday that the Canada Emergency Business Account, which farmers had said didn’t support them due to the way they handle payroll, was expanded in a way that included more farms. When specific issues are raised they are much more likely to be addressed, rather than a broad demand for more.