Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised $252 million in support funding to farmers and producers struggling to navigate through the pandemic on Tuesday morning.
The package includes $77 million will go towards the health and safety side of agriculture, like personal protective equipment and physical distancing measures to keep workers in food processing plants safe, he said.
That money will be available for food processors of varying size, including meat packers, to help adjust their operations and increase capacity to deal with the backlog of livestock that’s been building up in parts of the county.
There will also be a credit program for the dairy industry.
Trudeau is pledging at least a $50 million government purchase program for surplus foods to send to charity groups and food banks so it doesn’t go to waste.
The government is also expected to set aside $125 million to the AgriRecovery fund, a federal and provincial program aimed at helping farmers during disasters.
The focus on the Cargill meatpacking plant in High River where an outbreak of over 900 COVID-19 infections forced a two-week shutdown has created some disruption in the food supply change and a surplus of cattle.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture has warned that food shortages could result unless a major financial boost and called for a $2.6 billion relief fund.
Trudeau said this was an initial investment and if they needed to add more money, they will.
Canada is the fifth-largest producer in the world.