Close to three-quarters of BC residents believe agri-food companies should be first in line for government assistance to help them weather the effects of COVID-19, according to a survey market research firm Research Co. conducted in partnership with Glacier Media.
“Across the province, the highest level of support for government assistance is observed for agri-food companies (73%),” a summary of the findings stated.
Securing funds is tough, however. Some relief programs announced weeks ago by the federal government have only recently been launched. Others remain stalled as Ottawa and the provinces negotiate the funding terms. With only so much money to go around, some provinces face tough decisions about where to channel funds.
Nationally, deferral programs for loans are emerging as the most effective. A boost of $5 billion in the lending capacity of Farm Credit Canada has provided $4 billion worth of support to farmers, federal agriculture minister Marie-Claude Bibeau told the federal finance committee last week. Some of these funds have had a direct impact on producers in BC.
A total of 39 of the approximately 350 wineries in the province have sought loan deferrals from FCC during the pandemic. The deferrals involve $79 million worth of loans, or about 62% of the value of FCC’s winery-related business in BC. Some clients are paying interest only right now while others have deferred payment of both principal and interest. The deferrals are for anywhere from six to 12 months.
With files from Myrna Stark Leader