By Connor Lynch
Farmers have until Feb. 8 to apply for the second phase of the federal government’s oft-maligned Dairy Farm Investment Program.
The federal government opened up the second round of funding on Jan. 7, putting $98 million more on the table for Canadian dairy farmers.
The first round of funding opened in August 2017. It was a price-matching scheme, offering up to $250,000 per farm for farmers to invest in upgrades to help them with the market loss from CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) eliminating 98 per cent of tariffs between Canada and the European Union and increasing European access to four per cent of Canada’s cheese market. The entire program set aside $250 million for farmers.
This round is a bit different. The first round was done on a first-come-first-served basis. The program was deluged with requests and was bogged down in responding to them. Some farmers waited over a year to receive funding. The style of the funding was also heavily criticized in farm country, since some producers got the full amount of funding, and others didn’t get anything, even though all dairy farms lost equally under the CETA agreement. The money went only to farmers that had made, or were planning to make, upgrades to their operations. Farmers who weren’t upgrading weren’t eligible for funding.
In the second round the government has two stages of applications: There’s a pre-selection step that a producer has to pass before submitting a full application. The government will fund up to $100,000 per farm and plans to fund 1,000 to 1,500 farms. Any farmers who received money in the first round will not be eligible to receive any in this round.
The government also announced it will create new working groups to develop strategies on how to compensate dairy farmers for market loss in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) trade deals.