/The Sprout: Farm group says lack of federal aid could result in food shortage

The Sprout: Farm group says lack of federal aid could result in food shortage

Happy Friday and welcome to The Sprout, where it’s the day we’ve been waiting for all year. You guessed correctly — it’s National Chocolate Parfait Day, at a time when it’s never been more fitting to eat your feelings.

Now, onto today’s agriculture news.

The Lead

Canadian farmers are asking the federal government for more aid to help the agriculture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture said Canadians could see higher costs and less variety in grocery stores in the months ahead unless it receives financial support from the federal government.

Speaking with reporters on yesterday afternoon, CFA federation president Mary Robinson said the Liberal Government must “prioritize” food production as part of its strategy to deal with novel coronavirus across the country. Robinson says farmers are considering whether it’s worth it to plant a 2020 crop due to higher costs and a shortage of workers for farmers across Canada.

“Farming families need immediate help and support to ensure our domestic food supply remains reliable and secure for Canadians coast to coast,” she said. “Another fear is that if planting does go ahead, will harvesting and processing be possible without sufficient labour or will crops rot in the fields as we are seeing now happening in other countries.”

CTV News has more.

Around Town

The Government of Canada has launched a new webpage, “Step up to the plate  — help feed Canadians,” to help promote jobs in the agriculture sector, addressing both a need for more farm labour and for those laid off due to COVID-19 to find work.  The jobs include positions on farms, in food and beverage manufacturing, in distribution, and much more, according to the site.

In Canada

One of Canada’s largest meat processing facilities, Cargill will re-open its doors on Monday to one shift of workers. The news is welcomed by cattle ranchers who’ve found themselves with thousands of cattle and no processing plant to take them to.

“It backs the cattle up because in Alberta we would process between nine to 10,000 every day,”  Doug Price, who owns and operates three feedlots in Alberta, told CTV News.

Canada’s food supply chain has weathered the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic well, according to Lenore Newman, director of the Food and Agriculture Institute and professor of geography at the University of the Fraser Valley.

“This is the single biggest disruption to food systems in modern times. We went overnight from a restaurant sector that took about 40 per cent of the food going to nearly zero,” she told Global News.


U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said yesterday that meatpacking plants will reopen in a matter of “days not weeks,” citing an executive order this week signed by President Trump, according to The Hill. In an interview with Bloomberg News, Perdue said workers in slaughterhouses will start receiving additional protective gear and have access to COVID-19 testing “virtually immediately.”

Shuttered meat processing plants and supply problems have turned into a big opportunity for the plant-based protein sector. Beyond Meat, one of the bigger names in food technology, saw its shares jump 49 per cent last month. Meanwhile, venture capitalists have been pouring money into smaller companies, some focused on lab-grown meat analogues as well as plant-based substitutes. In mid-April, U.S. sales of these products were double that of the same period last year, reported Bloomberg.


The Kicker

If you thought you had too much spare time on your hands, Maria Trezza, a lunchroom and playground aide who’s out of work due to the pandemic, has take to creating tiny picnic tables for squirrels.

And thanks to a viral tweet from her 28-year-old son, she has sold 130 squirrel tables just to people in her local area in less than a week.

Her son told BuzzFeed News he’s received about 350 direct messages from people around the world wanting to buy one.

Have a great weekend.

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