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Canadian ag sector receives support in federal budget
Canadian ag sector receives support in federal budget

The government is investing in research and female ag entrepreneurs

By Diego Flammini
News Reporter
Farms.com

Canada’s agricultural sector will benefit from some items in the federal government’s 369-page budget.

A key area of focus is the expansion of the role of women in the workplace.

The government is making $1.4 billion of new funding available over three years to help female entrepreneurs access capital funding through the Business Development Bank of Canada, for example. One specific item relates to women in the agricultural industry.

“To support women entrepreneurs in agriculture, the Government will create and launch a new lending product in 2018–19 designed specifically for women entrepreneurs through Farm Credit Canada (FCC),” the budget states.

Development of the lending product is still in its infancy, but FCC understands the importance of diversity in the agricultural industry.

“The program is still very much in the exploratory stage and we’re going to do some research on any gaps that might be in the marketplace,” Trevor Sutter, corporate communications for FCC, told Farms.com yesterday. “The (government’s) intent is quite clear and diversity is just as vital as young people to the future of agriculture. Over the next while we’re going to look at supports to encourage a number of groups to consider a career in agriculture.”

The industry will also benefit through funding for science and research.

The government is investing $100 million to support agricultural science, research and innovation, with a focus on climate change, and soil and water conservation.

The investment demonstrates the government’s confidence in the work researchers are doing, said Serge Buy, CEO of the Agricultural Institute of Canada.

“We are really pleased with the increased investments in ag research and innovation,” Buy told Farms.com yesterday. “Canada is trying to honour its agreement in (the Paris Agreement) and we know that soil and water conservation is a part of that. I think the ag sector is moving in the right direction in terms of research and innovation.”

Other budget items tied to agriculture and rural Canada include:

  • $4.3 million over five years to reopen two prison farms at Joyceville and Collins Bay institutions
  • $49.1 million over six years for Statistics Canada to conduct the 2021 Census of Agriculture
  • $100 million over five years for the Strategic Innovation Fund to help support rural broadband and related items
  • $29 million over five years for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to secure market access for agri-food products
  • $2.4 billion for the Ministry of Agriculture and Agri-Food in 2018-19

The budget wasn’t universally loved by the ag industry, however.

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture (CFA) is happy the budget includes “moderate investments that will support the agricultural sector, but (is) disappointed that the government hasn’t directly followed up on the vision from last year’s budget, which set ambitious targets to grow the industry for the benefit of all Canadians,” Ron Bonnett, CFA president, said in a statement yesterday.

The investments into innovations, new markets and female entrepreneurs is good news, but CFA was disappointed with the Minister of Finance’s lack of acknowledgement of agriculture in his budget speech, the statement said.