March 22, 2004: Prime Minister Paul Martin and
Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Bob Speller today announced
$995 million (note: dollar amounts are Canadian)
in assistance for Canadian farmers who face historic financial
challenges brought on by circumstances beyond their control.
Today's funding will also help producers transition to
new business risk management programming.
"The Canadian cattle and beef industry is a real
success story, but it has been devastated by extended
border closures, which are beyond its control,"
said Prime Minister Martin. "The government is
providing the industry with this much needed assistance
to help producers manage until borders are fully reopened."
"Farm income across Canada dropped to historic
lows in 2003, affecting all commodities. Canadian farmers
face these unprecedented challenges at the same time
that they are moving to a new permanent income and disaster
assistance program," said Minister Speller. "Today's
funding will not only help our cattle producers through
a difficult period but also the whole of the agriculture
sector, which has weathered a number of shocks and unforeseen
events in the last couple of years."
The Transitional Industry Support Program will provide
a total of $680 million to cattle producers who have
faced a prolonged closure of the Canada-US border. The
funding will be delivered as a direct payment of up
to $80 per eligible bovine animal on inventory as of
December 31, 2003. Eligible animals will include all
bovine animals except mature bulls and cows (cows that
have calved and intact bulls older than one year). Similar
measures will be available for producers of other ruminants
who have lost access to the U.S. market.
The program will also provide $250 million to producers
of all eligible commodities, including the cattle industry,
across Canada. The funding will be delivered as a direct
payment to producers based on their past income information
and will act as a bridge to the new Canadian Agricultural
Income Stabilization (CAIS) program.
A further $65 million is earmarked to cover the federal
government's share of the shortfall for the 2002 claim
year under the Canadian Farm Income Program (CFIP).
CFIP is cost-shared on a 60:40 basis by federal and
provincial governments. In the 2002 program year, claims
to the program exceeded the amount available, due in
large part to drought conditions in western Canada.
The CAIS program is in place across Canada and provides
producers with protection from small and large declines
in income, including in disaster situations. However,
it is a new program, and producers are still in a period
of transition as they begin to sign up.
Over the past year, producers have faced many challenges
including the closure of export markets to Canadian
beef, an appreciation of the Canadian dollar, and consecutive
droughts in the prairies, which, along with other factors,
have all had a negative impact on farm income. This
situation has caused immediate cash flow problems for
many producers. Cattle producers are facing a particularly
severe situation as borders remain closed following
the discovery of a second North American cow with BSE
in December 2003.
The investment announced today will provide producers
with interim assistance until they are able to take
full advantage of the CAIS program.