My name is Michel Daigle. I'm the chair of the National Cattle Feeders' Association, or NCFA. I live in Sainte-Hélène-de-Bagot, Quebec, in the Saint-Hyacinthe area. I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
The NCFA is the voice of Canada's cattle feeders, who finish approximately three million head of beef cattle each year. Today, we'll provide a brief update on the COVID-19 situation, along with recommendations to improve Canada's business risk management programs.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected Canada's beef industry in numerous ways, but two in particular stand out. First, a reduction in beef processing has caused 130,000 head of fed cattle to back up on feedlots. This is costing cattle feeders over $500,000 a day in extra feed costs. Another 30,000 head of dairy and beef cull cattle are also backed up.
Second, the prices of fed cattle have fallen dramatically. The price of a fed steer is $20 to $30 per 100 weight lower than the five-year average, depending on the province. This translates into a drop of $300 to $450 per head for cattle feeders. From mid-March to the end of June, cattle feeders have lost $275 million.
The Government of Canada has responded by providing $50 million in AgriRecovery funding to help offset the feed costs of backed up cattle. Set-aside programs are up and running in Alberta and Saskatchewan, and Ontario is readying one as well.
Also, $77.5 million has been made available to food processors for investments to mitigate COVID-19 and protect workers. Lastly, interim payments under AgriStability were increased from 50% to 75%, and an additional $5 billion in lending has been made available through Farm Credit Canada.
COVID-19 has presented cattle feeders in the beef industry with an unprecedented challenge, and we applaud the government's support. This support is critical to managing the fallout from the pandemic. However, COVID-19 has also brought into sharper focus some gaps in Canada's suite of business risk management programs. I'll turn the floor over to our president and chief executive officer, Janice Tranberg, who will speak about this issue.
Go ahead, Janice.