British Columbia

B.C. announces new programs aimed at helping farmers and food producers

The government of B.C. has announced funding for operators of small and new farms as part of a new pilot project.

'Small-scale farms are the bedrock of local food economies,' says advocate

Individual businesses will be eligible for up to $17,500 in approved project costs. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

The B.C. government has announced two new programs to help B.C. farmers and food producers in a move the province says will help improve food security and build a stronger economy.

In a statement, the province says operators of small or new farms are eligible for funding through a new pilot program, which offers up to $800,000 for business plan coaching and cost sharing on infrastructure and equipment.

"Small-scale farms are the bedrock of local food economies and key to strengthening short supply chains," said Sara Dent, co-founder and executive director of Young Agrarians.

Dent said providing support to a new generation of farmers requires innovative programs to address their unique needs.

As part of the program, a small farm is defined as one with a total annual gross revenue of less than $60,000 in the last two years. 

Individual farms are eligible for a maximum $17,500, with the funds covering up to 75 per cent of total approved project costs, according to the province.

"B.C.'s farmers and food producers have stepped up to the challenges of COVID-19," said Lana Popham, minister of agriculture, food and fisheries. "We are working with them to put us on the path to a strong recovery with investments ... that will feed people and strengthen our economy."

The government also announced it is investing $90,000 to help growers increase the amount of land devoted to growing raspberries, in an effort to revitalize the province's raspberry industry. 

"Investment in the agriculture sector right now is critical," said Stan Vander Waal, president of the B.C. Agriculture Council. "It will play a major role in helping the province weather and recover from the pandemic-induced economic downturn, particularly in rural communities."