Overview of COVID-19 Support for Agri-Businesses

The Government of Canada announced $452.5M in new funding measures for the agriculture and agri-food sectors last week, highlighting these businesses’ importance in maintaining the country’s food supply during critical times. This brings the total invested in this sector by Canadian governments to almost $900M since the pandemic started, according to Fundingportal‘s calculations.

Traditionally, grants for the agriculture sector have been distributed under federal-provincial/ territorial agreements. This means that programs and support may vary depending on your region, while other funds are open to any business located in Canada. Below is a list of all COVID-19 incentives announced for this sector since March, and organized by region.

Programs Open to All Canadian Agri-Businesses

  • $200M for Loans. This additional amount of borrowing capacity is available under the Canadian Dairy Commission.
  • $125M AgriRecovery Initiative. This program helps producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19.
  • $77.5M Emergency Processing Fund. This new program helps food producers access more personal protective equipment, adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures from COVID-19.
  • $62.5M for Fish and Seafood Sector. The new Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund helps businesses access short-term financing.
  • $50M in Sectorial Support. The federal government will provide support of $1.5k for each temporary foreign worker employed by farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers to ensure isolation period requirements are fully met. This program will be available as long as the Quarantine Act is in force and the isolation protocol is followed.
  • $50M Surplus Food Purchase Program. This new program helps redistribute existing and unsold inventories to local food organizations serving vulnerable Canadians.
  • Increased AgriStability Payments. The Government is working with provinces and territories to increase interim payments from 50% to 75% through AgriStability.
  • Changes to AgriInsurance. The Government is exploring expanding this program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticultural sector.


  • $25M in Support for Hog and Potato Farmers. The interim payment under AgriStability is increased from 50% to 75%.
  • $5M Agriculture Training Support Program. This Program helps employers in the food supply chain provide necessary training to new domestic employees. The maximum government contribution under the program is $2k per new employee, up to a maximum of $50k per employer.
  • Utility Relief. Farmers can defer bill payments for electricity and natural gas until June 18.


  • $160K Food Purchasing Platform. Direct Farm Manitoba is a new software platform that allows Manitobans to order food online from local producers and farmers’ markets.


  • $2.5M for Online Agri-Expansion. The Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative helps food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations develop online business. Funding ranges between $5k and $75k per application.
  • $2.25M for Meat Processing Plants. The Agri-food Workplace Protection Program provides funding to implement COVID-19 health and safety measures in provincially-licensed meat plants, including purchasing additional personal protective equipment, redesigning workstations, supporting employees who require mandatory isolation, and work-site mobility and transportation. The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will begin accepting applications on May 12 and will expedite the approval process.
  • $1M for Agri-Food Jobs. The Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative – Addressing Labour Supply and Training Challenges program, administered by OMAFRA, connects workers with in-demand jobs in the agri-food sector.

Prince Edward Island

  • $250M Interest Relief Program. This program supports fish harvesters with up to 12 months of interest relief and service debt costs at an average interest rate of 5%. Fish harvesters that can demonstrate a 30% or more decrease in fish-related revenues for the 2020 fishing season are eligible. 
  • $750k Strategic Fund for Agriculture. This program helps commodities and small processors adapt to the pandemic.
  • Prince Edward Island Fish Emergency Loan Program. This Finance PEI Program provides loans up to $25k to harvesters at 4% interest over a five-year term. The principal will be deferred for the first 18 months. In addition, the Department of Fisheries and Communities will pay interest on behalf of the borrower for the first 18 months.


  • $45M for Recruiting Agricultural Workers. This money, administered by the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) and AGRIcarrières, helps attract agricultural workers.
  • More Loans. The Financière Agricole du Québec will provide loans of up to $50k to businesses to help them continue their operations. Loans will be repaid over 10 years, and no payments will be made for the first 12 months.

Looking for agriculture and agri-food grants? Book a consultation with Fundingportal today.



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