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Manitoba to join in on AgriRecovery program

Manitoba will join the other Prairie provinces requesting AgriRecovery funds for a beef set aside program

Manitoba will be opting into AgriRecovery to help offset the financial hit from COVID-19.

Agriculture and Resource Development Minister Blaine Pedersen confirmed May 29 that Manitoba has signed on for beef set aside funds, offered through AgriRecovery.

Blaine Pedersen.
photo: Allan Dawson

“Manitoba is working with the federal government,” he said. “We are trying to get approval for a funding mechanism for the provincial share and, to date, we have not yet got the okay.”

The disaster relief framework is typically triggered by a province, with the province then shouldering 40 per cent of the resulting aid package.

Why it matters: Manitoba was the last Prairie province to commit to AgriRecovery.

On May 5, the federal government committed to $125 million in AgriRecovery funds in light of market disruptions from COVID-19. Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said those funds would be put in place regardless of whether provinces also promised funds, although her department later clarified that provinces would still have to confirm their participation in AgriRecovery.

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The funds included $50 million for a beef set aside program, with a matching sum slated for the pork sector and a further $25 million unattached to any given industry. Bibeau also said that AgriRecovery coverage would jump from 70 to 90 per cent of eligible losses.

Both beef and pork sectors saw massive market disruptions after COVID-19 cases in packing plants led to shut downs in both the U.S. and Canada. Both sectors reported huge losses as farmers were forced to keep back market-ready animals.

Dollar amounts for Manitoba’s eventual AgriRecovery aid package have not yet been finalized, Pedersen said.

“There’s a wide range of estimates in terms of what the dollar value will be,” he said, adding that the province is, “shooting for the middle,” of that range.

All three Prairie provinces have now said they will be tapping into AgriRecovery.

Alberta, which saw the worst Canadian-based beef plant closures, announced their own contribution to the cattle set aside within days of the federal announcement. The province announced up to $17 million in provincial funds, for a total $42 million in provincial and federal funds.

The following week, Saskatchewan announced $10 million in provincial aid. Half of that money would go to the set aside, for a combined $12.5 million in federal and provincial funds, while the other $5 million would help offset premiums under the Western Livestock Price Insurance Program, Saskatchewan Agriculture Minister David Marit said May 14.

Other aid

Pedersen also confirmed that Manitoba will join the provinces increasing AgriStability interim payments from 50 to 75 per cent, an option introduced by the federal government in early May.

“This works especially for the pork industry right now,” Pedersen said.

In late April, the Canadian Pork Council requested the equivalent of $20 per head to cover a portion of their losses, which they estimate at $30 to $50 per market hog.

Pedersen also said that the province is speaking with the province’s potato sector to gauge surplus supplies.

Potato processors in the U.S. and Canada reported plummeting demand as the COVID-19 pandemic closed restaurants and dining rooms. In Manitoba, the potato sector reported lower contracted acres from processors this year, something attributed to the sudden drop in demand.

About the author

Reporter

Alexis Stockford

Alexis Stockford is a journalist and photographer with the Manitoba Co-operator. She previously reported with the Morden Times and was news editor of  campus newspaper, The Omega, at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC. She grew up on a mixed farm near Miami, Man.

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