GNCC officials weigh in on federal agri-food funding

CKTB - NEWS - Farming

Although some help is coming for Canada's agri-food sector, there are still concerns about weathering the COVID-19 storm.

The federal government is offering $252 million in relief, mainly for workers at processing plants and farmers and growers facing decreased demands for livestock and crops as restaurants serve fewer people.

The Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce's Director of Policy and Government Relations Hugo Chesshire welcomed the announcement, but says there are still local concerns.

"There's been a lot of uncertainty. First it was the uncertainty about the migrant workers, whether or not they'd be allowed in. And then that was cleared up and there'd be a 14 day delay, which obviously costs them as well. They don't come in on a certain date in order to take a vacation, they come in on a certain date because they need to start working right away. So that 14 day delay is costly."

Chesshire points out in terms of population quotient, Niagara has one of the biggest agricultural sectors in the province, chiefly in tender fruit.

During yesterday's announcement, Prime Minister Trudeau promised more help would be coming for the industry.

GNCC President Mishka Balsom echoes that sentiment. "It's a temporary approach to it, but it's definitely not the full support of the sector. I think we're hearing from a number of ministers too that there are more announcements in the weeks to come for this industry."

The latest funding falls well below the $2.6 billion the Canadian Federation of Agriculture was hoping for.