/The Sprout: Opposition MPs decry federal agriculture support as falling-short of the sector’s needs

The Sprout: Opposition MPs decry federal agriculture support as falling-short of the sector’s needs

Good day and welcome to the Sprout. It’s National Roast Leg of Lamb Day. Here’s a well-reviewed recipe from Damn Delicious.

On to Thursday’s agriculture news.

The Lead

Opposition MPs are criticizing the federal government’s aid package for the agriculture industry by saying it falls short of addressing the needs of cattle and hog producers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bloc MP Yves Perron told MPs on the House agriculture committee that the $252 million the government has promised is “disappointing” in comparison to the U.S., while NDP MP Alistair MacGregor pointed out that the funding represents what the Canadian Federation of Agriculture said was needed to sustain the industry during the crisis.

Later in an interview with iPoltics, John Barlow, the Conservative agriculture critic, said that while the funding helps cattle farmers, hog producers have been left out.

Chris Forbes, the deputy minister of agriculture, justified the government’s offering by saying it will help farmers and processors address urgent needs.

Around Town

Four House committees meet today to discuss the government’s response to COVID-19. The procedure committee will be compiling its report advising Parliament on how to function during the pandemic, which is due to be submitted to the House in about a week from now. One of the panels in front of the finance committee today is a collection of stakeholders in the fishing sector.

In Canada

The vast majority of meat-packing in Canada takes place at just three plants. Two have been the sites of disruptive COVID-19 outbreaks, causing a backlog of roughly 100,000 cattle, which are now stuck on farms and costing ranchers hundreds of millions to feed and also denting their revenues. The Financial Post looks at how the country’s slaughter-to-plate track became so consolidated.

The two Alberta-based plants where the outbreaks took place account for about 70 per cent of beef processing in the country. With workers recovering from the illness, the province is instituting new safety precautions, which the Western Producer details here.

New planting projections are out, and Statistics Canada reports that Canadian farmers plan to seed less canola and more wheat this year. Survey results should be cautioned as having an unusually low response rate, due to the circumstances of the pandemic. Reuters reports.


Farmers in the U.S. unable to send their animals to processing facilities have begun posting their livestock on Craigslist in a bid to avoid euthanization. As in Canada, the closure of meat processing facilities across the U.S. because of COVID-19 outbreaks has resulted in a backlog of animals looking to be processed, and farmers are struggling to pay for feed for their animals. Some farmers have posted full-grown hogs for $80 each while other are offering their livestock for free.

“The day I see the pigs euthanized on my yard will be one of the saddest days I ever see,” one farmer told CNN.

While slaughterhouses across North America are shuttered, fast-food chain Wendy’s says it is running out of beef, while Kroger and Costco limit sales of some meat items, underlining the growing dislocation in the meat supply chain. One cattle farmer told Reuters that the consumer will end up paying a huge price “and we could approach financial insolvency because these animals are dropping in value.”

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin said today that international rivalry on global markets was rising because of a fall in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Reuters reported that Russian presidents said the struggle for international markets for deliveries of fuel and raw material goods, food, and other products has intensified against the falling global demand.


The Kicker

BRB moving to Korea:

More from iPolitics