Cattle producers get COVID set-aside program

The federal government is going it alone on funding the $2.5-million program in Manitoba

Manitoba cattle producers are getting a support program to help offset the impact of COVID on their sector.

The 2020 Manitoba Finished Cattle Feed Assistance Program will provide “… up to $2.5 million…” in direct support, a news release from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada stated. For finished cattle payments of $1.20 per day per animal will “… help offset costs to feed animals beyond their expected marketing dates, due to slaughter plant closures and operational reductions resulting from COVID-19 outbreaks, or disease control measures.”

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“COVID-19 forced a bottleneck in our processing plants and a backup in demand that caused stress and added costs on our cattle producers,” Marie-Claude Bibeau, the federal agriculture minister, noted in the release.

Applications are now open, with a deadline of Dec. 1, 2020, and will cover eligible “extraordinary” costs incurred between April 15 and August 31, 2020.

According to the news release the program is being funded through the AgriRecovery program, a “… federal-provincial-territorial disaster relief framework to help producers faced with the extraordinary costs associated with recovering from disasters.”

However, these programs are typically funded jointly using a cost-splitting formula, but that does not seem to be the case here.

According to the news release, funding is coming from the federal government with the province administering the program applications and payments to producers.

The release notes that “extraordinarily” for the 2020-21 fiscal year, the federal government will provide its share of funding without requiring provincial contributions, and will cover 90 per cent of eligible extraordinary costs, up from 70 per cent.

The Manitoba program comes months after similar programs were announced in other provinces. In early May Alberta producers heard they’d be getting up to $40 million for a set-aside program, jointly funded by that province and the federal government, with the province kicking in $17 million. By mid-May Saskatchewan had followed suit, stumping up $5 million as its share of a $12.5-million set-aside program.

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