COVID-19 Resources for Organic Farmers and Producers in BC

in COABC Blog

The COABC is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in BC and is working hard to determine the impacts, stay on top of the latest information and keep the organic sector informed.

Below is a list of resources that will be updated frequently. If you have a resource to add, please get in touch with communications@certifiedorganic.bc.ca.

COABC

COABC COVID-19 Response – March 18, 2020: certifiedorganic.bc.ca/docs/3.18.2020_covid19.pdf

COABC COVID-19 Response – March 17, 2020: bcorganicgrower.ca/2020/03/coabc-covid-19-response/

 

Recent Updates

75% Federal Wage Subsidy- Applicability to Agriculture and Agri-Food

March 30, 2020: From COTA: “The government officials responded to questions from participants and concerns about how the 75% wage subsidy might apply for our members. In very broad strokes, to be eligible, an employer needs to show a loss of sales, or a loss of revenue due to COVID-19. Producers and food processors are eligible to apply to the program but to be a qualifying employer, you must be able to demonstrate a 30% loss in revenue (which will be assessed after the fact). The max subsidy for each employee is $847/week and will be made retroactive to March 15th, 2020. Officials were reminded of the unique nature of many agriculture sectors, with seasonal harvest, inventory selloffs/uneven markets, and/or reliance on food service/restaurants. AAFC officials assured the industry participants that they are well aware of the unique requirements of our sector and that they are already in discussions with the Department of Finance to ensure the wage subsidy will meet the needs of the agriculture and agri-food sector.”

 

Temporary Foreign Workers Program

March 30, 2020: From COTA: Further guidance has been provided by the federal government to help clarify employer responsibilities. More details (PDF).

March 25, 2020: Progress is “on track.” See the update from the Canada Organic Trade Association for more information.

March 20, 2020: The federal government has officially announced that an exemption to current travel restrictions will be made for temporary foreign workers. Full details here.

Please see the BCAC website for updates that relate to the Temporary Foreign Workers program. For producers who employ or are expecting the arrival of temporary foreign workers through the SAWP and/or AgStream programs, please subscribe to the WALI Update email list to receive relevant COVID-19 updates and information.

 

Government of BC

March 26, 2020: An outline of the province’s most recent measures to keep communities safe, goods moving and essential service workers supported. The releases provides clarity and answers some key questions many people have been asking. Read the release.

 

Implementation of COR

March 24, 2020: CFIA news release: In light of the COVID 19 situation, the CFIA will postpone all planned audits of CVBs under the COR until the restrictions on non-essential travel are over.

The CFIA in collaboration with the CVBs, has developed criteria for remote audits of the CBs to provide flexibility and reduce the need for onsite audits by the CVBs. The CFIA will support CVBs taking appropriate measures and adjusting their surveillance activities.

The CFIA will allow flexibility in CBs inspection frequency for renewal of current organic certification. The CFIA accredited CBs are also requested to assess the risks of continuing certification and establish a documented process outlining the steps they intend to take, in case an operator is affected by the COVID-19 and/or on-site inspection is not possible due to travel restrictions.

Read the full release here.

 

Surveys

Impact of COVID-19 on organic operations

A survey from the Canada Organic Trade Association aims to find out how COVID-19 affects Canadian organic operations. The information collected will be shared with AAFC and CFIA.

Take the survey here.


Young Agrarians COVID-19 survey

Survey distributed by Young Agrarians. The information collected will be shared with the BC Ministry of Agriculture.

Take the survey here.

 

Industry Updates

BC Ministry of Agriculture

Minister Lana Popham has an active Facebook page with regular updates on the Ministry’s activities.

 

BC Association of Farmers’ Markets Association (BCAFM)

Latest updates for markets, vendors and consumers: bcfarmersmarket.org/bcafm-covid19

 

BC Agriculture Council

Updates for BC farmers and ranchers, particularly regarding seasonal agricultural workers: bcac.ca

 

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

FAQ and information for employees and industry: https://inspection.gc.ca/eng/1297964599443/1297965645317

 

AgSafe

COVID-19 emergency planning resources: agsafebc.ca/tools/emergency-planning-resources

 

Older updates

AgriStability

The British Columbia government has established the 2019 and 2020 B.C. AgriStability Enhancement Program which will help agricultural producers manage 2019 and 2020 income losses. If you are already participating in AgriStability for 2019 or 2020 or both and have suffered an income loss, you will automatically receive the increased protection that this BC program provides. There are no additional enrolment requirements other than you must be enrolled in AgriStability.

New AgriStability participants can still enroll for 2020; the deadline is April 30, 2020.

To apply or get more information please visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/2019-2020-bc-enhanced-agristability-program or call 1 877 343-2767 (toll free) or email AgriStability@gov.bc.ca.

 

Federal COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

Link: canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html

 

Other resources

BC Ministry of Health

Latest news releases: news.gov.bc.ca/ministries/health

 

Conference Board of Canada

The latest updates, data, forecasts, research on the growing spread of coronavirus, and useful tools that will help you and your organizations navigate these challenging times: www.conferenceboard.ca/insights/covid-19

 

COVID-19 Business Support Resources Summarized by Small Business BC

 

Mental Health Resources