COVID-19 - Information for the agriculture and agri-food industry
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) is taking action to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 (coronavirus disease). This page contains information for those in the agriculture industry (producers, processors, and agri-food businesses).
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has created an online tool to help businesses find a tailored list of government programs and services. For more information, please visit innovation.canada.ca.
Agriculture and agri-food sector resources
The Farm Credit Canada (FCC) lending capacity was increased by an additional $5 billion. This new injection of credit allows FCC to help farmers, agribusinesses and food processors who face cash flow issues from deferral to the principal or interest portions of their loans to accessing additional credit.
The Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund, a $100-million venture capital fund was launched to provide companies with the stability and flexibility they need to rebuild their business models during challenging times. Additionally, a $50 million investment was made in three new venture capital funds (InvestEco Sustainable Food, District Ventures, Ag Capital Canada) and an innovation and growth accelerator (Bioenterprise) to support various parts of Canada's agriculture and food industry.
Producers with an Advance Payments Program loan due by April 30 have been granted an extension to their repayment deadline.
Producers continue to have access to a comprehensive suite of Business Risk Management programs to help them manage significant financial impacts and risks beyond their control.
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has developed an AgriStability Estimator to provide an online aid to help producers understand how the AgriStability program works, how program benefits are calculated and how different scenarios can impact their operations.
Guidance for food business activities and processes
The food industry should continue to follow guidance and protocols set out by local public health officials. Instructions may vary depending on the spread of COVID-19 in certain areas and provinces, and the products they produce. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released additional guidance for meat processors, however the same guidance can be applied more broadly to other third party establishments.
Agri-food workers, jobs and temporary foreign workers
Conditions and obligations for temporary foreign workers and their employers during the COVID-19 pandemic
The Government of Canada has relaxed restrictions for some fully COVID-19 vaccinated travellers entering Canada (including temporary foreign workers in agriculture and processing) – that is, removal of the requirements to quarantine, take a COVID-19 test on day 8, and stay at a government authorized hotel.
As in years past, employers and their associations are responsible for organizing travel for temporary foreign workers. Employment and Social Development Canada has provided guidance on the obligations of employers of temporary foreign workers, including the payment of wages during the 14-day self isolation period, which can be found at:
Employers are also expected to follow any unique guidelines established by the province in which they operate.
Job portal: Step up to the plate — Help feed Canadians
There is a strong need for workers on Canadian farms and in food processing businesses across the country right. Canadians, especially those whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19, are encouraged to apply for jobs in the food sector at Step up to the plate — Help feed Canadians.
Following the July 31st Government announcement of additional investments in measures to boost protections for Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) and address COVID-19 outbreaks on farms, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) launched a new $35 million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund (EOFSF).
The program is intended to support immediate needs related to changes required on farms to ensure the health and safety of domestic and temporary foreign workers due to COVID-19, and limit the spread of the disease on agricultural operations.
Recipients will be primary producers. In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must confirm in writing that all applicable measures of the Quarantine Act are being adhered to, including but not limited to the mandatory 14-day isolation period for TFW.
Eligible activities can be retroactive to March 15, 2020 and must be completed by February 26, 2021.
The EOFSF has an end date of March 31, 2021, which means all disbursements must be made by the federal government by that date.
The application process is open, with some variation in opening dates between provinces and territories.
Public health guidance and
personal protective equipment (PPE) resources
Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR)
On July 16, the Prime Minister announced a federal investment of more than $19 billion to help provinces and territories safely restart their economies. News Release.
Part of this investment is being used to establish the Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR), which will help essential service organizations bridge urgent, short-term gaps in personal protective equipment (PPE) when other sources of supply are unavailable and to avoid any significant disruptions in services to Canadians. Eligible organizations will be able to apply online for a range of equipment available for purchase at cost. Full details on the reserve, including the application process and eligibility criteria, are available on the Essential Services Contingency Reserve web page.
Workplace guidance for the sector
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has compiled federal public health guidance for sector employers and employees during COVID-19. The guidance is updated regularly in close consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada.
PPE federal supply hub
The Government of Canada has launched the federal supply hub to provide information for organizations buying and selling personal protective equipment (PPE). The hub provides resources and consumer guidance for PPE and is updated regularly.
COVID-19 control plan checklist
This COVID-19 control plan checklist has been developed as a resource to help farm businesses put in place a plan for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. While targeted to businesses with temporary foreign workers, its criteria and considerations in a simple checklist format are useful for all agricultural businesses.
Trade and transportation
Transportation across provincial and territorial boundaries
The United States and Canada recognize it is critical we preserve supply chains between both countries. These supply chains ensure that food, fuel, and life-saving medicines reach people on both sides of the border. Supply chains, including trucking, will not be restricted. Americans and Canadians who also cross the land border every day to do essential work or for other urgent or essential reasons, will not be impacted.
Truck drivers, plane crews and others who are transporting goods are essential to our supply chains. As long as they are not showing symptoms, these workers are exempted from travel bans.
For all issues at the border, including information on border crossings, please contact the Canada Border Services Agency 24/7 border information service line at 1-800-461-9999.
International agricultural trade
The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the economic and agricultural trade impacts of COVID-19, as countries continue to implement various measures to contain the spread of the disease. At this time, COVID-19 is disrupting shipping logistics around the world and presenting some challenges involving the movement of food. Many of Canada's trade partners have implemented travel restrictions and additional safety measures at ports, which is causing delays throughout the international supply chain.
Despite these challenges, most of Canada's trade partners consider the food supply chain as critical during this time, and Canada remains in a strong position to supply our international customers with safe, high-quality agricultural products.
For more information on how the government is supporting Canadian exporters and the free flow of goods and services across our international borders, please visit the Trade Commissioner Services website.
CFIA has posted updated information on temporary flexibility for non-food safety labelling and packaging requirements for pre-packaged meat products during COVID-19. Details can be found on CFIA's information for industry webpage.
Support for people experiencing food insecurity
As international commerce, trade and supply lines will continue to operate, Canada has plenty of food which continues to reach grocery stores on a regular basis.
The Government of Canada is working with established national and regional networks to help improve access to food for people experiencing food insecurity. Up to $100 million in funding is going to food banks and other local food organizations.
There is no evidence that food is a transmission route for the virus.
At this time, there have been no reported cases of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of COVID-19.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has strong measures in place to ensure the safety of Canada's food supply. If the CFIA becomes aware of a potential food safety risk, appropriate actions will be taken to protect Canada's food supply and to inform the public and industry.
All Canadians should continue to follow good hygiene practices during food handling and preparation, such as:
regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces
cooking meat thoroughly
avoiding potential cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked foods
Support for non-profit organizations
A Food Rescue Canadian Alliance Task Force has been launched for food suppliers across the supply chain and not-for-profit organizations to work together to ensure food gets to Canadians and communities at-risk of food insecurity. Food Rescue and Food Mesh support the redistribution of surplus food to those who need it.
For funding support, not-for-profit organizations are asked to contact the five organizations that received funding directly.
Scientific research at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
As it relates to laboratory, greenhouse and barn activities, AAFC started re-entry back in the middle of August. As of October 13, all 20 AAFC research centres have resumed a number of laboratory, greenhouse and barn activities.
The health and safety of their employees continues to be the number-one priority in all decision making and the department will be closely monitoring the situation across the country, continuing to adhere to guidance from local and provincial authorities.
AAFC will continue to focus on a gradual resumption of further activities provided that local conditions remain favourable.
Additional resources for producers and businesses
Provincial and territorial resources
Each jurisdiction has developed unique resources based on that province's local laws as well as federal guidance. Please refer to the provincial government sites below for additional information