Agriculture News

COVID-19: Financial assistance for producers and agribusiness

Published on 03.30.2020 by Richard Kamchen

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There is an array of assistance available to help agribusiness and agri-food navigate the uncertain times of COVID-19.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, producers can continue to access a comprehensive suite of business risk management programs.

Several assistance programs applicable to agribusiness and agri-food have also been announced. And changes have been made to existing programs, including the Work-Sharing program and a new Business Credit Availability Program through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada.

For small businesses, a 10% wage subsidy for the next 90 days is available, while an Emergency Care Benefit is an option for the self-employed and others not eligible for EI sickness benefits.

Increased lending capacity

In addition, an added $5 billion is allocated to FCC to increase lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses and food processors.

The additional lending capacity means support to Canadian farmers and agri-businesses no matter what comes.

“FCC is committed to the long-term success of the Canadian agriculture industry, so we want to help our customers succeed through unexpected circumstances like the ones we’re facing with COVID-19,” says Michael Hoffort, FCC’s CEO.

The additional lending capacity allows FCC to offer support to Canadian farmers and agri-businesses, “through all business cycles,” Hoffort says.

This $5 billion, equal to about half of the lending FCC does in a normal year, helps ensure farmers are prepared to plant the 2020 crop, he says.

Farmers, agribusiness and agri-food

“We’re trying to make sure that we address cash flow concerns of farmers preparing to plant the 2020 crop, and also those food processors and agribusinesses that are being impacted right now as well,” Hoffort says.

Upon customer inquiry, FCC is deferring principal and interest payments for six months, or in some cases, deferring principal payments for up to 12 months, he explains.

Also, FCC is providing access to an additional credit line of up to $500,000, secured by general security agreements, or, in Quebec, a universal movable hypothec, Hoffort adds.

Cash flow needs

Farmers are particularly in need of cash flow as crop marketing has been stymied by a poor harvest. In the Prairies alone, over three million acres still need to be harvested, he notes.

Agribusiness and agri-food cash flow may also be impacted by demand shock, which is the sudden, but temporary, increase or decrease of demand for goods.

“There are some customers and food processors that are scrambling to reset and find some new markets,” Hoffort says. “This makes it important for you to find alternative sources of cash flow during this adjustment period.”

Get in touch

FCC urges customers experiencing financial pressures to contact them as soon as possible. 

With many of its employees working remotely, and given Health Canada’s emphasis on social distancing, FCC recommends these options:

  • Phone: Call the FCC Customer Service Centre toll-free at 1-888-332-3301.
  • Online: Many transactional needs can be handled via FCC Online Services.

Bottom line

Several assistance programs have been announced recently aimed at helping producers, agribusiness and food processors navigate the current dynamic circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. From farmers to the self-employed and businesses with multiple employees, there are several funding options available to tap into.

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