Both the Government of Canada and B.C. government are taking strong and direct steps to support farmers and agri-food businesses facing financial hardship due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 14th, the Government of Canada announced a $100-million Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund to support a wide range of agribusiness and agri-food sector enterprises. These include companies involved in primary production, agri-tech, manufacturing, packaging, and distribution. To qualify, companies need to demonstrate an impact from an unexpected business disruption, such as the loss of a key supplier, temporary loss of a facility, or permanent loss of critical staff or leadership.
On May 5th, the Government of Canada announced an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors who provide essential services to Canadians every day by ensuring a safe and reliable food supply. The government also intends to propose an additional $200 million in borrowing capacity for the sector.
Eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30, 2020, will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan. The new deadlines for outstanding Advance Payments Program loans are:
- September 30, 2020: 2018 cash advances for grains, oilseeds, and pulses
- September 30, 2020: 2018 cash advances for cattle and bison
- October 31, 2020: 2019 cash advances on flowers and potted plants
To ensure producers, agribusinesses and food processors can remain focused on business-critical functions rather than worrying about how to access funds to keep operating through this challenging period, effective immediately, FCC has put in place:
- a deferral of principal and interest payments up to six months for existing loans; or
- a deferral of principal payments up to 12 months
- access to an additional credit line up to $500,000, secured by general security agreements or universal movable hypothec (Québec only)
The BC Agriculture Council COVID-19 resource list collects dedicated resources for the agricultural sector. Topics include:
- Info for Employers of Seasonal Workers
- Federal Requirements for employers of Temporary Foreign Workers
With resources available in multiple languages, AgSafe BC have produced a comprehensive listing of employer protocols, procedures and safety tips for BC’s agricultural sector.
Focusing on the human resources aspect, CAHRC’s dedicated COVID webpage contains employee management tips, frequently asked questions and information on creating safety protocols.
WorkSafeBC is working with workers, employers, and industry associations to ensure agricultural workplaces remain healthy and safe during the COVID-19 outbreak and they continue to be able to produce the foods we need.
For more information from WorkSafeBC, please see:
- Preventing exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace: a guide that employers may use to assess the risks and controls in their workplace.
- COVID-19 health and safety information: general information for all employers and workers about staying safe at work
- Frequently asked questions: answers to questions from British Columbian workers and employers on how to maintain a healthy and safe workplace
As long as they meet the eligibility criteria, businesses in the agriculture industry can also tap into existing government supports such as: