Main players in Quebec's agricultural supply chain are asking government for more help
Consumers will be the ones to foot the bill if governments don’t do more for the agriculture sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Quebec companies who work in the industry.
The main players in the province’s agricultural supply chain – producers, processors and suppliers – said in a union meeting on Thursday that Quebec’s autonomy will be threatened when it comes to food unless they receive government help.
The federal government’s announcement earlier this week to provide $252 million is just one-tenth of the $2.6 billion requested by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.
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Without more help, the president of Quebec’s agricultural producers’ union predicts that many producers will be forced into bankruptcy and risk being bought out by foreign interests. Local food chain struggles also threaten the sector’s ability to meet demand, meaning it will become necessary to import products from elsewhere – causing prices to rise.
The industry saw a little over 30 per cent of its market disappear with the closure of the hotel, restaurant and institutional food sectors – especially in schools – while having to spend additional funds on personal protective measures to continue to produce safely amid the pandemic.
These measures have slowed down the capacity of processing plants, who aren’t able to process their usual quantities of meat. This has created a backflow for producers, resulting in them having to slaughter their animals because they aren’t able to sell them.
In some cases, the animals are sold for processing, but since factories are struggling to process large volumes of stock, they’re limited to cuts of lower value that reduce producers’ margins.
Certain producers are taking on surpluses and are having to store the stock, which often requires freezing – yet another additional cost.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020.