Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for inviting the Canadian Cattlemen's Association to present on the challenges and solutions for Canadian beef producers during COVID-19.
My name is Bob Lowe. I'm the president of the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. With me today are Tyler Fulton, a director on our board and a beef producer from Manitoba, and Fawn Jackson, our director of government and international affairs.
Earlier this week, the Government of Canada announced funding for Canada's beef sector. I would like to state first that we are thankful for this initial investment, but we must stress that what was announced was one part of our three immediate asks, and we really do need the other two to be able to manage through the difficult situation that COVID-19 has put our industry in.
First, I would like to update the committee on the situation in the beef industry, as it changes frequently. Backed up within our beef supply system, we now have over 100,000 head of cattle that were supposed to be harvested but have nowhere to go. It costs on average four dollars a day to feed a market-ready animal, so this is costing our industry an additional $400,000 a day. Although Cargill is back up and running, it is at a significantly reduced rate. We estimate that we are adding 5,000 head of cattle to the backlog each day. As you can see, we are in a serious situation.
Certainly, the $50 million in funding that was announced for the set-aside program is helpful. We are currently working hard, in coordination with governments, to establish this program as quickly as possible. We are also thankful for the $77.5 million that will be invested in processing. We know that eastern Canada in particular needs more processing capacity and that processing facilities in Canada are continuing to make adaptations for COVID-19. Processing shortage is the crux of the challenge we are faced with, so this is a sound investment.
I would like to express our deep gratitude to the workers within these plants, who are integral members of our community and critical to the foundation of Canada's food system.
Your work is essential and it does not go unnoticed. You are certainly our food heroes.
I would also like to express our gratitude for the meat-packing companies that are continuing their investment and innovation in these beyond challenging times.
We will continue to strive to use the best information available to us and implement appropriate actions, and we will certainly take lessons away from COVID-19.
I want to say that I have been impressed by the level of coordination and collaboration throughout the full supply chain, from the team at the market access secretariat, which helped to make sure we had all the information to continue international trade, and the CFIA, which quickly mobilized to ensure we had adaptable inspection services, to the plants, which implemented best practices, and the front-line food workers, who continually adapted to the difficult situation. It hasn't been easy, and it likely won't be easy for some time, but I can tell you that team Canada is a great team to be on.
Again, I must stress that we beef producers have challenges in front of us and we need to act quickly. Our board is very focused on the future and our young producers, and we know that COVID-19 is especially detrimental to the financial health of their farming operations.
I'm now going to hand it over to Tyler, as one of the younger producers on our board, to talk about our two remaining asks.