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Federal-provincial initiative will insure Ontario farmers for COVID-19 losses

Friday, July 10, 2020 @ 2:42 PM | By John Schofield

The federal-provincial AgriInsurance program is being enhanced for Ontario farmers to include coverage for labour shortages due to COVID-19.

The increased insurance will include coverage for losses due to an inability to attract sufficient on-farm labour due to COVID-19, as well as illness or quarantine of on-farm labour or the producer due to the pandemic, according to a July 9 Ontario government news release. As is typically the case, it will be delivered through Agricorp, an Ontario Crown agency that delivers risk management programs and other services to the province’s agriculture sector,

Farmers are expected to notify Agricorp as soon as possible if they experience COVID-19 related labour disruptions that are having an impact on their crops, the release states.

Ontario is the first province in Canada to make such a move, said Bill George, chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association.

“This announcement is an important first step towards giving growers assurances that their government will have their backs during the pandemic,” George was quoted as saying in the news release.

Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau also commended Ontario for taking the initiative. “During these exceptional times, we fully appreciate just how essential our agri-food workers are to our entire food supply chain,” she said in the release.

Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman said the increased insurance will help Ontario farmers better deal with the added pressures and uncertainty that have come with COVID-19.

“By enhancing AgriInsurance coverage to include labour shortages due to COVID-19 for eligible farmers,” he said in the news release, “we are directly responding to their requests for support and protecting Ontario’s agri-food sector so it can continue producing the food our province needs.”

According to the release, the AgriInsurance program is part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments to support Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors.

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