Support for the solidarity of Canadian agriculture in year marked by extreme climate events

News release

December 15, 2021 – Ottawa, Ontario – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

This year, Canada’s farmers have been hit hard by extreme weather, including the drought across western Canada and in northern Ontario, and the flooding and landslides that struck British Columbia. Despite these challenges, many stepped up in solidarity to help their fellow farmers and ranchers from across the country.

During an event today with President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) Mary Robinson, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced an investment of up to $4 million towards the CFA’s Hay West 2021 initiative.

Through Hay West 2021, the CFA is connecting Eastern farmers with Western and northern Ontario farmers in need of feed. The Government of Canada and corporate sponsors are helping to offset the freight costs to transport hay between those farmers. In September, the government approved $1 million, which has helped transport approximately 150 shipments (5.6 million pounds) of hay to feed 16,750 cattle. Over the coming months, up to $3 million in additional funding will continue to support the movement of hay across the country.

Hay West is a beacon of solidarity during a year that has been marked by extreme weather events affecting the lives of Canadian farmers, who are on the front lines of climate change. In response to this year’s historic drought – the worst in more than 60 years – the Government of Canada and the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario came together to make available up to $825 million in cost-shared AgriRecovery disaster relief funding. This funding has already helped thousands of livestock producers, particularly cattle producers, cover the extraordinary costs they faced this year, including to obtain livestock feed, transportation and water. The federal and provincial governments also made changes to adjust the farmer income supports under the AgriStability program and, in the Prairies, to adjust the AgriInsurance program so that drought-damaged crops could be used for feed.

The solidarity of Canadian agriculture can also be seen in British Columbia, where 30 farms are still under evacuation orders and thousands more have been devastated by the effects of flooding and landslides, which have submerged crops and affected the welfare of livestock. Farmers and their communities, with the help of emergency forces, have succeeded in saving thousands of animals and helping many farmers with their urgent needs. Both the federal and provincial governments are currently fast tracking a joint assessment through the AgriRecovery framework to provide support to producers through a disaster relief package.

The Government of Canada is committed to the long-term sustainability of the agriculture sector, and building its resilience to extreme weather events. In the past year it has announced over $550 million in new programming, including the Agricultural Climate Solutions and Agricultural Clean Technology programs, to help farmers and agri-food businesses implement sustainable practices and technologies that help to mitigate climate change.

Quotes

“The past year for our producers has been marked by numerous challenges related to climate change. They have demonstrated great strength of character, the willingness to rebuild, extraordinary resilience and also exceptional solidarity. They were able to rely on each other, and on our government, no matter where they were in the country, making it easier for everyone to bounce back. By investing in Hay West, our government is bolstering the solidarity that unites our agricultural producers.”

- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“CFA is appreciative of AAFC's contribution of up to $4 million to Hay West 2021. This funding will help offset transportation costs to move hay from eastern Canadian farms to western Canadian farms, helping a portion of western farmers and ranchers who have experienced a catastrophic drought. Without hay, a vital part of a cow’s diet, these ranchers and farmers face the difficult decision to prematurely cull herds. The impact of the 2021 drought has been devastating and the need for hay and funding for this program will continue until pastures are available in mid 2022. CFA will continue to seek additional funding from both the government and corporate donors to help move as much hay as possible, and to save as many animals as possible over the coming months.”

- Mary Robinson, President, Canadian Federation of Agriculture

Quick facts

  • The funding announced today is provided through the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP), a $50.3 million, five-year investment to help the agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.

  • Hay West 2021 revitalizes similar initiatives undertaken in 2002 (Hay West) and 2012 (Hay East).

  • The Hay West 2021 initiative uses an electronic virtual exchange service to facilitate buying and selling transactions and minimize these time consuming activities for producers. It is operating on a break-even basis, with hay being purchased from Eastern Canadian farmers and resold at cost to Western Canadian recipients.

  • CFA established the program as a relief measure for Western Canadian producers. It will also help protect the future herd in Western Canada by providing as much hay as possible to breeding stock impacted by persistent drought in the region. This investment is helping provide relief to livestock producers in affected provinces.

  • The Government of Canada and the governments of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia agreed to increase the 2021 AgriStability interim benefit payment percentage from 50% to 75%, so producers can access a greater portion of their benefit early to meet their urgent needs.

  • Producers have access to a suite of Business Risk Management (BRM) programs to help them manage significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage.

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is investing in initiatives that contribute to an environmentally sustainable and resilient agriculture sector. This includes:

    • the Agricultural Clean Technology program, which supports the development and adoption on farms of clean technology that are energy-efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • the Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) Living Labs program, which is creating a Canada-wide network of regional collaborations, or Living Labs, made up of farmers, scientists and other sectoral stakeholders to engage in co-development, evaluation and adoption of beneficial management practices to better store carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    • the ACS On-Farm Climate Action Fund stream, which will encourage more farmers to adopt and implement beneficial management practices that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration in the areas of nitrogen management, cover cropping and rotational grazing. 

Associated links

Contacts

Marianne Dandurand
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
marianne.dandurand@agr.gc.ca
343-541-9229

Media Relations
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
1-866-345-7972
aafc.mediarelations-relationsmedias.aac@agr.gc.ca
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