(The Canadian Press)

Details on federal food buy-back program coming soon, Bibeau says

The funds won’t address the entirety of the problem facing farmers

Details of a program that will see the federal government buy surplus food from farmers and redistribute it to food banks and other community groups are coming soon, Liberal Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau promised Tuesday.

The government announced the $50-million plan nearly a month ago as part of a suite of efforts to help the agricultural industry cope with the fallout from COVID-19.

Farmers are grappling with a surprise surfeit of products, as restaurants and the hospitality industry have largely shut down due to distancing restrictions. That means there’s more food than there are consumers.

Among the results: potatoes are piling up and going bad in warehouses, milk is being poured down drains and there are too many cattle and pigs for processors to handle.

At the same time, food banks and community groups had been reporting increased demand for assistance as millions of Canadians suddenly found themselves unemployed.

Bibeau said the final details of how to marry the over-supply of food with the increase in demand for help are being worked out now.

“It’s a matter of days before we inform everyone of the criteria of the programs but we have already started to work with the different industries who have surpluses that they can offer to the food-bank networks,” she said Tuesday.

The funds won’t address the entirety of the problem facing farmers; when it comes to potatoes alone, some 700 truckloads are currently going bad in New Brunswick alone, farmers there said late last week.

Those potatoes are last year’s crop. Farmers are now struggling with how much to plant this year given uncertain demand come harvest time.

Bibeau said there are other avenues available to the industry to deal with those pressures, pointing — again — to existing risk-management programs.

Bibeau has insisted that the $252-million aid package she rolled out for the industry last month could be increased if farmers took full advantage of the existing supports.

Those programs are cost-shared with the provinces, and Bibeau said talks continue with them to see if they’ll pony up more money this year.

But she said one element Ottawa won’t move ahead on is a carbon-tax rebate for grain farmers. They had argued the carbon tax was hurting their bottom lines, given the massive amount of energy needed to dry their product.

Bibeau said Tuesday an analysis by the federal agriculture department concluded the actual cost is minimal, less than half a per cent of operating expenses for farms.

Only some of the COVID-19 related funding the Liberals have rolled out to help farmers is new money.

On Tuesday, Bibeau announced that some previously announced cash was also now being made available to help with the issue of food security.

Approximately $43.4 million has been freed up out of the local food infrastructure fund, part of a five-year program that was launched as part of a broader federal food policy in 2019.

Altogether, $50 million was allocated to reduce food insecurity and the first round of proposals saw 362 projects receive a total of $6.6 million.

Bibeau announced the program would now take applications for the second round of funding.

Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Food Bank

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Gabriola Island artist recounts creative journey, struggles in new memoir

Tammy Hudgeon presents ‘Tender Brave Spirit: An Expressive Life Almost Missed’

City of Nanaimo takes inventory of its land for official community plan review

Report recommends high-density residential development, identifies shortage of industrial land

Neighbours corral suspected impaired driver after crash in south Nanaimo

Car went off road, hit pickup truck and retaining wall before striking house on weekend

Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district considers COVID-19 lessons in planning for fall

Elementary, secondary school committees formed to plan for next school year

Infringing festival finds a way to dance during pandemic

Crimson Coast Dance Society holding drive-in, micro and physically distanced events July 10-19

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

Elizabeth May endorses Furstenau in BC Greens race

Former federal party leader backs Cowichan Valley MLA

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

RCMP seek man facing sexual assault charges

Police believe he may be living on central Vancouver Island but also has a history in the Cariboo region

Most Read