The Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) said the federal government’s promise of a $252 million aid package to the country’s agric-sector to help weather the COVID-19 pandemic is a first step in the right direction, but the industry will require more money as soon as possible.
APAS said the announcement falls far short of the $2.6 billion identified by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) as the amount needed to avoid serious food insecurity and hardship to both farmers and consumers.
According to APAS president Todd Lewis, the federal support will provide $50 million each to Canada’s beef and pork sectors, whereas the CFA has calculated that $840 million is needed to assist those sectors alone.
“It’s important that we get these dollars in place so that we don’t start losing producers and we don’t lose capacity because at the end of the day people in Saskatchewan and across this country are going start to see it affect our food supply,” Lewis said.
Lewis added that another shortcoming of the plan is that it does not address ongoing and severe shortcomings in business risk management programming.
Lewis said that vegetable, cattle and hog producers are facing the most crisis as a result of COVID-19, and will need immediate funding to prevent shortages and that people are going to start to see the effects.
“We have already seen some items in grocery stores go up in price and we don’t want to see a hike in price, we don’t want to see shortages either, It’s really important the government continue to provide support and realize how urgent it is,” Lewis said.
The APAS president also said the agricultural industry has seen a change in the demand curve and is adapting to increase production to meet both export and domestic food supply.
He also believes getting the necessary funding to the Saskatchewan agricultural sector will be a real economic driver coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
APAS has released its own series of policy recommendations that would adequately address the challenges facing Saskatchewan producers including a call for government help to reduce premiums for the Western Livestock Insurance Program among other things.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
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