Small and new B.C. farms receive funding

Operators of small or new farms in British Columbia are eligible for project funding from the B.C. Agriculture, Food and Fisheries department, the province announced Dec. 1.

The Small Farm Business Acceleration Program has up to $800,000 earmarked for business plan coaching to small and new farmers, and will cost-share on commercial farm infrastructure and equipment projects that will increase productivity.

The department defines a small farm as one that has had less than $60,000 in revenue in the last two years. The province will cover 50 to 75 percent of total approved project costs for those farms, to a maximum of $17,500 each.

B.C. agriculture minister Lana Popham said the pandemic has emphasized the importance of the local food economy in terms of food supply and jobs.

“B.C.’s farmers and food producers have stepped up to the challenges of COVID-19, and we are working with them to put us on the path to a strong recovery with investments in new and improved programs that will feed people and strengthen our economy,” Popham said in a news release.

Sara Dent, co-founder and executive director of Young Agrarians, said small farms are essential and she is hopeful funds through this program will continue and increase in the future.

In the same news release, the province announced a $90,000 investment in a raspberry replant program to help growers increase acreage planted to varieties that suit the climate and are also suitable for the fresh and quick-frozen markets. The raspberry program will be cost-shared with growers.

B.C. is the largest raspberry producer in Canada with more than 1,500 acres planted to the crop.

B.C. is also putting $800,000 this year and next year into the Beneficial Management Practices Program, designed to encourage farmers to protect air, land and water and align with the government’s CleanBC climate goals.

To be eligible for funds, farmers must have an environmental farm plan and undertake approved projects designed to improve air quality, land and water quality, nutrient management, waste management or irrigation management.

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