Canadian Manufacturing

Canada’s chicken farmers still waiting for support

Farmers have lowered their production by 12.6% for May and June and by 11% for July and August to address the concerns of their value chain partners

May 8, 2020  by CM Staff

PHOTO:Lance Cheung/USDA, via Flickr

OTTAWA – While welcoming the Prime Minister’s government announcement regarding financial support for agriculture and agri-food, Canada’s chicken farmers said in a statement on May 8 that they believe the government does not fully understand what they need to mitigate specific impacts caused by COVID-19.

Farmers have lowered their production by 12.6% for May and June and by 11% for July and August to address the concerns of their value chain partners and give the system a bit more breathing room.

“We’re not looking for compensation for our reduced production,” said Benoît Fontaine, Chair of Chicken Farmers of Canada, in a prepared statement. “We’ll take care of this ourselves. The issue arises with the potential of having to depopulate flocks. What we’re asking for is a commitment to cover both the value of the birds and the costs related to any required depopulations due to COVID-19.”

The statement shared that the entire value chain has worked to avoid having to depopulate flocks, by rerouting birds when plants have had to close due to COVID-19 outbreaks. While no depopulations have happened to date, the unpredictability of the virus means that plant closures and depopulations remain a risk.

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The uncertainties resulting from COVID-19 are in addition to the financial stress farmers faced with the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Canada’s 2,877 chicken farmers have reported to have lost a portion of their domestic market and have been waiting on government to announce programs for long-term sustainability and competitiveness of the sector for over a year.

“Our farmers need clear decisions on COVID-19-related support. We don’t want to be dealing with these losses for years to come,” said Fontaine. “Farmers and processors are proud to feed Canadians, and government support will help us continue to do so.”