Government help is on the way for the agriculture industry through challenging times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marie Claude Bibeau, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced Farm Credit Canada (FCC) received a $5-billion increase in lending capacity from the federal government.
“Like many Canadians, I am truly grateful for our farmers and food business owners and employees, who continue working hard so we all have quality food on our grocery store shelves and kitchen tables. Their continued work is essential to our plan to manage COVID-19,” Minister Bibeau said. “The measures announced today will provide farmers and food producers across the country with important financial flexibility they will need during these challenging times.”
Bibeau’s announcement followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to ensure producers, agribusinesses and food processors continue to have access to capital through this unprecedented event.
“Farmers and producers work hard to put food on tables across our country, and they should not have to worry about being able to afford their loan payments or having enough money to support their own families,” said Trudeau. “We are taking action now to give them more flexibility to meet the challenges ahead.”
The FCC’s president and CEO, Michael Hoffort, said agriculture industry workers and businesses who are feeling the pressure of these uncertain times —producers concerned about having the cash flow required to plant crops or food processors feeling the impact of a lost sale due to the financial downturn — can turn to the FCC for assistance.
“It’s in times like these that we are reminded how important Canadian producers and food processors are to our nation and to feeding the world,” said Hoffort.
He added the FCC is using its resources to find solutions that give the industry its best chance at recovery going forward, saying that strong collaboration between banks, credit unions, FCC and other financial institutions is needed to support the industry.
The FCC is also asking customers who have financial concerns to contact them to discuss alternatives, such as loan payment deferrals and products available to assist with cash flow needs.
“Each business’s financial situation is unique, so there may be a combination of options considered,” Hoffort said. “The bottom line is that FCC is being supported by our shareholder to play a bigger role in supporting the success of the Canadian agriculture and food industry across Canada. The sooner we can discuss potential challenges, the more options we have.”
Customers experiencing financial issues are asked to contact their FCC relationship manager or the FCC Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301.