A federal government investment of $89 million was announced on Feb. 5 for 49 projects across Canada under the Supply Management Processing Investment Fund to support processors in the poultry sector, among others.(File)

Projects that support poultry farmers across Westman and Canada have received a $89 million funding boost from the federal government, Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay announced on Feb. 5.

The investment will go to 49 projects across Canada that fall under the Supply Management Processing Investment Fund, which is a part of the federal government’s plan to support processors in supply-managed sectors to address the impacts of recent international trade agreements.

The fund, launched in 2022, is a six-year, $397.5 million program that the federal government is using to help processors of supply-managed commodities adapt to market changes that have taken place due to trade agreements.

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), which modernized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saw Canada make concessions that give the United States extra market access, especially in the dairy, poultry and egg products sector, that has resulted in more American poultry and egg products on Canadian store shelves.

Any time that market share is taken away from Canadian egg farmers, the whole industry feels the effects, Catherine Kroeker-Klassen, the board chair of Manitoba Egg Farmers, told the Sun.

“We do our best as egg farmers to provide whatever choice of eggs that consumers want in Canada,” she said. “We try to keep up with that, but because those trade deals are there, we’re obligated to bring those American products across the border.”

While most places in Manitoba won’t see American eggs on the shelf, it is happening in more populated areas, like British Columbia and Ontario, Kroeker-Klassen said. Most of the American eggs are also coming in as processed products, such as liquid eggs.

“Consumers wouldn’t necessarily be seeing it, but every time an egg crosses the border, that means Canadian farmers aren’t producing those eggs,” she said.

Through the funding announced on Feb. 5, dairy, poultry and egg processors are able to purchase and install new, automates equipment and technology that will help them expand their production capacity and productivity, and help them tackle environmental challenges and labour shortages.

Some of the projects include milk pasteurizers, robotics for packaging systems, new machines for grading, setting and breaking eggs, and ultrafiltration systems.

With this funding, dairy, poultry and egg processors can modernize their operations so they can continue providing Canadian families with high-quality products while supporting small, rural communities across the country, MacAulay said in a press release sent out by the federal government on Feb. 5.

While the funding announcement doesn’t affect the day-to-day lives of egg farmers across Manitoba, Kroeker-Klassen said it’s important to ensure that as many local, high-quality farm products as possible end up in consumers’ homes.

“We’re very pleased that our industry partners have got this funding, and that they can access these upgrades,” she said. “Machines aren’t cheap, and technology isn’t cheap.”

The Supply Management Processing Investment Fund has allowed many poultry and egg processors to make important new investments in their facilities, said Mark Hubert, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Poultry and Egg Processors Council.

“New investments in equipment and technology will facilitate companies’ efforts to increase productivity and efficiency and enable Canadian poultry and egg processors to undertake valuable and leading- edge modernization projects,” he said.

The Supply Management Processing Investment Fund is now accepting applications for funding. The program will provide non-repayable contributions that will support up to half of eligible costs for small and medium enterprises, and up to a quarter of the costs for large organizations of 500 employees or more. Kroeker-Klassen hopes the federal government will continue to support Manitoba egg farmers and producers in the poultry

sector across the country to help offset the effects of CUSMA, she said.

“So long as our government stands firm behind supply management and not trading away more market shares, egg farmers are going to adjust, and we are going to put our boots on just like we do every morning and get out there to the barn and do what we can to provide eggs to our fellow Canadians.”

By Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 15, 2024 at 07:30

This item reprinted with permission from   Brandon Sun   Brandon, Manitoba
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