Nova Scotia

Ottawa, province announce help for farms to meet COVID-19 protocols

As many as 500 farms in Nova Scotia could get government assistance to help with the cost of guarding against COVID-19.

Federal-provincial program provides up to $50,000 to farms

The delayed arrival of temporary foreign workers was one of the challenges farms in Nova Scotia faced this year as a result of COVID-19. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

As many as 500 farms in Nova Scotia could get government assistance to help with the cost of guarding against COVID-19.

The emergency on-farm support fund will provide farms with five or more employees up to 75 per cent of eligible costs related to efforts to protect workers on farms and in employee living quarters.

That includes personal protective equipment and sanitary stations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The federal government is putting in $983,000 and the province is adding about $246,000. Funding is capped at $50,000 per application.

Victor Oulton, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, said one of the biggest challenges for farmers was that COVID-19 hit at just about the same time as many temporary foreign workers would arrive in the province, putting into question what kind of workforce would be available.

Even after that was put to rest, Oulton said many farmers faced additional costs to be able to adhere to physical distancing and other public health requirements.

"On some of the planters and stuff in the springtime, workers work pretty much side by side, so they had to get up some Plexiglas barriers in some of the planters and stuff like that for some of the vegetable crops and strawberry crops," he said.

Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell says as many as 500 farms in the province could benefit from the funding program. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Agriculture Minister Keith Colwell had high praise for the way Public Health officials worked to help approve safety plans as quickly as possible, and for how farmers responded to the challenges.

"The people in our industries in Nova Scotia have been incredible in what they've done," he said.

"They've really adapted quickly; they've used innovative ways to get things done, they've followed the rules, the protocols — they've just been incredible to deal with."

Friday's funding is in addition to previous assistance programs the province announced for farms with fewer than five employees.

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With files from Maritime Noon

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