“Since COVID-19 began, one of our government’s top priorities has been ensuring there continues to be a steady supply of safe and nutritious food available for Ontario families. That is why we have been working closely with farmers, organizations like Beef Farmers of Ontario and Ontario Pork, as well as the federal government to ensure that we address current challenges in our livestock processing network,” says MPP Bill Walker, Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound.
“COVID-19 has caused issues and disruptions in the province’s meat processors which I know has impacted farmers here in Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. However, Ontario has been swift to respond, providing necessary support and investment for the sector and our farmers through several key initiatives.
Long before the pandemic, we have been investing in and supporting Ontario’s abattoirs and beef industry. Since February 2019, we have committed up to $2 million for projects to help improve food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity measures at provincially licensed abattoirs. We also extended the intake window under this program by two months to further support the sector.
In November, Ontario and Canada launched the Meat Processors Capacity Improvement Initiative – a $4 million program to help processing plants increase their productivity and capacity through improvements to product handling and processing equipment. Our government is working fast on these investments and I’m proud we have already approved projects under this program and are reviewing the rest of the applications as quickly as possible.
We also took immediate action to support farmers who were recently affected by meat processing disruptions from COVID-19. Up to $5 million in immediate, emergency assistance, the Canada-Ontario COVID-19 Agri-recovery Beef Emergency Feed Maintenance Initiative allows beef farmers to apply for funding to help cover increased costs of feeding and setting aside market-ready cattle due to COVID-19 related processing delays. Up to $5 million in emergency assistance has also been earmarked for hog farmers through a similar program.
Our government recognizes the challenges COVID-19 has created in our agriculture and processing sectors. That is why we are continuing to provide ongoing help to both farmers and processors to keep them strong and supported through this difficult time, ensuring they can keep feeding our province and country.
I want to thank the farmers across our community for their hard work in keeping Ontario going throughout the last year and beyond. Working together, we will come through this period even stronger than before.”