A new fed cattle set-aside program will allow beef producers to hold on to slaughter-ready cattle on maintenance feed ration for several weeks, allowing the supply of animals to more evenly match demand and reduced processing capacity.

Cattle producers will be compensated for the extraordinary costs until the backed-up inventory is cleared. Currently, there are about 130,000 cattle backed up in feedlots as a result of reduced operating capacity at major beef processing plants in Alberta. This comes at a substantial cost to cattle producers.

The Government of Alberta will immediately increase the interim payment under AgriStability from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for the hog sector. This will put up to $25 million in the hands of pork producers immediately. Increasing the advance payment under AgriStability will result in the equivalent of $20 per head for pork producers enrolled in AgriStability.

The closure of most food service outlets across North America has cut the volume for french fries being consumed. In response, the Alberta government will also immediately increase the advance payment under AgriStability from 50 per cent to 75 per cent for the potato industry, to get cash in hands of potato producers immediately. 

“Alberta’s ranchers and producers are known for their resiliency and these programs will ensure they’re able to weather the COVID-19 pandemic and keep providing the high-quality beef, pork and potatoes we’re famous for.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

“Our province provides most of the country’s beef, and the current disruption is resulting in substantial costs for our ranchers. We’re doing everything we can to ensure beef, pork and potato producers are able to stay afloat until things return to normal.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

“Thank you to Minister Bibeau, Minister Dreeshen, the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta for working together to ensure beef producers across Canada and Alberta will receive the support necessary to continue providing top-quality beef to Canadians across the country. This is a first step and we look forward to continuing to work with the federal and provincial governments to ensure that all beef producers will receive the supports needed due to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic.”

Bob Lowe, president, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association

“Alberta beef producers appreciate the commitment and leadership shown by the Government of Alberta through the contribution of matching funds to AgriRecovery for a set-aside program to immediately support our industry. Thank you, Minister Dreeshen, for recognizing the devastating impacts COVID-19 is having on Alberta’s beef industry and working together with the federal government to support the needs of producers so we can maintain our food supply chain.”

Kelly Smith-Fraser, chair, Alberta Beef Producers

AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial-territorial program intended to help agricultural producers recover from natural disasters. Alberta will work with federal and provincial governments to ensure money will get to producers as quickly as possible.

More details will be announced as they are available.

Quick facts

  • AgriRecovery initiatives are cost-shared 60-40 between federal and provincial governments.
  • On May 5, the federal government launched a national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding to help cattle and hog producers faced with extraordinary costs incurred by COVID-19. This includes $50 million for set-asides for cattle.
  • Alberta is Canada’s largest cattle-producing province, with 40.5 per cent of the national total cattle and calf inventory in 2018.
  • Beef is Alberta’s second-largest agri-food export, at $2 billion in 2018.
  • Alberta accounts for 10.4 per cent of Canada’s hog production, or about 2.8 million market hogs per year.
  • In April, the Potato Growers of Alberta estimated Alberta has $70 to $80 million worth of potatoes in storage, which is higher than one-quarter of the national inventory.

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