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Helping young Manitoba farmers

Helping young Manitoba farmers

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. expands the Young Farmer Rebate program

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Manitoba is helping make young farmers’ entry into the ag industry a little easier.

Manitoba Agricultural Services Corp. (MASC) is increasing the maximum amount eligible for the Young Farmer Rebate program from $150,000 to $200,000, Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler announced yesterday.

The program “assists young and beginning farmers to develop or expand their farming operations,” MASC’s website says.

It also provides an annual rebate of up to 2 per cent on the principal loan for up to five years. So, the maximum rebate will increase from $15,000 to $20,000.

The rebate program is part of MASC’s Bridging Generations Initiative, which provides farmers under the age of 40 with financial incentives, personalized terms and repayment plans.

These changes take effect April 1.

The average age of a Manitoba farmer is 53.8 years old, the 2016 Census said.

Helping young farmers access capital to get their agribusinesses off the ground is crucial to the industry’s success, Eichler said.

“One of our government’s priorities is to increase the number of young people in the agriculture industry,” he said in a statement. “Increasing the young farmer rebate supports our focus on young producers by reducing the cost of borrowing while they grow their operations.”

Established producers support the changes to benefit young farmers.

A pipeline of youth in agriculture is necessary, said Chuck Fossay, a farmer from Starbuck, Man., and president of Manitoba Canola Growers.

“We need young people to take over for old guys like me,” he told Farms.com. “Anything that can be done to give new and young farmers a good foundation to start a farm is welcomed by the farming community.”

The biggest challenge young farmers have is access to finances. They often don’t have any equity and the price to run a farm business has gone up, Fossay said.

“When I started farming 45 years ago, land was worth about $100 per acre and now it’s close to $5,000 per acre,” he said. “To go out and purchase a parcel of land is extremely expensive and difficult for young people who have little equity to get out there and borrow money.”

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