Canadian livestock producers asked governments for aid to get through the current price crisis. Today, Ottawa and the provinces responded with what is likely to be seen as additional loans. I don't think that's what farmers had in mind. Here's the news release:
Agriculture Ministers Announce First Stage in Action Plan on Support for Canada’s Livestock Sector
Ottawa, December 19, 2007
Ministers of Agriculture from federal, provincial and territorial governments have announced the first stage in a national action plan to help with the serious pressures faced by Canada’s cattle and hog producers. This first stage was developed after intensive discussions with industry, and is based on support from existing business risk management programs. Ministers committed to accelerate cattle and hog producers’ access to these programs and encouraged them to take maximum advantage of the support already available.
Governments are seeking authorities to implement the following programs to provide significant assistance to producers in the short term:
- AgriStability, with interim payments and targeted advances available;
- AgriInvest, including the federal $600 million Kickstart program; and
- an improved Advance Payments Program (APP) (more information below).
Overall, from late 2007 through 2008, nearly $1.5 billion in cash payments will flow to cattle and hog producers through existing programs. In addition, as a result of the changes being introduced by the federal government to the APP, up to $1 billion in additional loans will be available to the livestock sector, bringing the total loans available for the sector through the APP up to $2.3 billion. This enhancement will be particularly helpful to livestock producers who have had low income in recent years. Governments are now working with the producer organizations that deliver the program to ensure these loans are available early in the new year.Ministers also supported the federal government’s plan to defer the collection of interest on Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program overpayments until December 31, 2008. This is being done in response to industry requests and applies where the Government of Canada delivers the program, as well as in Alberta¸ Ontario, and Prince Edward Island.Ministers also committed that their governments and industry will continue to work together to examine the parameters of existing programs to ensure they continue to work for all stakeholders. In addition to these short term measures, governments are working with industry representatives to find ways of helping industry position itself to be competitive in the long term. These measures include enhancing market access efforts, reducing the regulatory burden, and examining means to reduce the cost of the feed ban implementation.Ministers will be meeting early in 2008.
HERE'S WHAT THE MINISTER SAYS ABOUT IT:
Government Programs will Deliver for the Livestock Sector
By Gerry Ritz,
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board
The Government of Canada and all the provinces and territories are working hard to provide real support for struggling livestock producers. We’re working closely with industry leaders to tailor programs to meet the sector’s needs. At a recent conference call with provincial ministers, we agreed on two main ways to support producers.
New farm safety nets such as AgriStability and AgriInvest and other programs are already delivering $1.5 billion to livestock producers from now through 2008. Canadian farmers asked us to replace the failed Liberal Canadian Agricultural Income Stabilization (CAIS) program and we promised to do that. AgriStability and AgriInvest are delivering on that promise with bankable, stable, predictable funding that is putting real cash in producers’ pockets. We gave farmers what they wanted – simpler, more responsive programs with shorter application forms, a better approach to inventory valuation, and improved coverage for farmers with back to back losses.
In addition, as a result of the changes being introduced by the federal government to the Advance Payments Program (APP), up to $1 billion in additional loans will be available to the livestock sector, bringing the total loans available for the sector through the APP up to $2.3 billion. These loans are providing up to $400,000 to individual producers with up to $100,000 interest-free. Livestock industry leaders asked for loans to help them weather the storm created by a high dollar and high feed prices. These loans provide that support and will give producers the breathing room they need to adjust to the new market realities, especially the high dollar.
The reason we are delivering support to the livestock industry this way is because the stronger, more responsive programs we put in place are the best and quickest way to support livestock producers.
The challenges facing the livestock industry are ongoing and the Government of Canada is working hard with the provinces and industry leaders to help producers adjust to new market realities. Everyone has to be part of the solution, but my provincial colleagues and I have committed to make sure our governments are moving in the same direction on a number of important fronts. With international partners we want to open and expand marketing opportunities. We are examining different approaches to inspection fees and reducing the cost of feed-ban regulations. And we want to make sure Canadian producers have access to the most innovative feed grain inputs. My provincial colleagues and I are meeting again in January to coordinate our efforts to support the industry.
This Government knows livestock producers are facing challenges and governments have to be one part of the solution as the industry adapts to new market realities. Through AgriInvest and AgriStability, as well as the $2.3 billion available in loans, we are making sure producers have the support they need to weather the current storm.