National Newswatch

Ottawa—After a strong performance in its 2020-2021 fiscal year, Farm Credit Canada stands ready to help producers struggling with this year’s vexing weather conditions, says Michael Hoffort, President and CEO.

In the fiscal year that began March 1, 2020, FCC grew its portfolio by 7.6 per cent to $41.5 billion even though it adjusted payments on 14.8 per cent of the total value of its outstanding loans compared to nine per cent in the previous year to support farmers struggling through the uncertainty of Covid-19, he said.

The move worked as 98 per cent of customers have returned to regular payments, demonstrating the resilience and adaptability of the agrifood industry during a challenging time. “In a year filled with so much uncertainty, FCC was able to serve the agriculture and food industry as it stepped up to overcome many challenges.

“FCC continues to be in a strong financial position to support those in Canada’s agriculture and food industry,” Hoffort said. “In the early stages of the pandemic, FCC collaborated with the federal government to provide working capital relief and additional lending for the industry and our customers.”

This year FCC is currently offering support to customers whose operations are impacted by the extreme heat and drought conditions. “We stand with our customers during these and other challenges.”

During the 2020-21 fiscal year, more than 4,900 customers used payment deferral options on loans totaling $5.6 billion. Over the same period, more than 1,800 customers were approved for COVID-19 FCC Credit Lines. As the year progressed, operations and businesses adapted resulting in a decline in requests for COVID-19 loan products.

As part of FCC’s purpose to enhance rural Canada, FCC contributed $1.5 million to 92 community projects and its annual Drive Away Hunger food drive also provided over 17 million meals for food banks and feeding programs nationwide—another record-breaking year despite disruptions caused by the global pandemic.

“A year marked by COVID-19 highlighted the importance of something that has always mattered to us: giving back to the communities where we live and work,” Hoffort said. “Looking ahead, there is a lot of important work to do as we grow the next generation of producers, support sustainability and promote a more inclusive industry, including the delivery of our Indigenous lending strategy.”

Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said the government boosted FCC’s lending capacity in response to the pandemic so that farmers and food businesses were supported as they headed into stormy waters.” The sector turned in a strong performance as food exports increased by more than 10 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Alex Binkley is a freelance journalist and writes for domestic and international publications about agriculture, food and transportation issues. He’s also the author of two science fiction novels with more in the works.
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