The federal and Manitoba governments have finalized their cost-shared budgets for just over $50 million worth of business skills training, food safety and environmental programming for farmers.
The funding, announced Wednesday at a press conference at a dairy farm near Marquette, Man., will flow through the federal/provincial Growing Forward ag policy framework, in three separate “suites.”
“These program suites provide valuable tools for today’s food producers, processors and agri-business sectors,” provincial Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said in a release.
The bulk of Wednesday’s announced funding, $29.8 million, will go to the Environment Suite, including an Environmental Action Program to help farmers improve environmental performance and sustainability of their farms through the development and implementation of Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs), by funding eligible Beneficial Management Practices (BMPs) such as nutrient management planning and riparian area management.
That suite also includes an Environmental Information Program, to help provide the environmental information needed for decision-making and adoption of BMPs.
The Business Skills Suite, meanwhile, involves programs directed at “building, improving and maintaining business management practices for farmers and agri-product processors.” That suite, budgeted at $4.5 million in total, includes:
- the Agri-Extension Business Program, a skills development program focused on the effective use of beneficial business management practices among new and established farmers and processors;
- the Agri-Skills Program, to help farmers and processors obtain training in business skills and development, such as courses that improve on-farm or value-added business practices;
- the Succeeding Generations Program, aimed at helping young farmers by providing financial management information, training and mentorship;
- a 4-H Program to “enhance the leadership knowledge and increase exposure to business development practices among Manitoba 4-H Council, youth and youth leaders;” and
- the Agri-Advisor Program, to help Manitoba farm businesses and agri-product processors to develop “sound and competitive business plans” and marketing strategies.
The Food Safety Suite is budgeted for $15.8 million, which includes Food Safety Programs, with resources to help establish and implement food safety systems and biosecurity on-farm, as well as traceability systems both “on-farm and post-farm.”
It also includes a Traceability Infrastructure program to support “industry-led systems that collect and verify identification and movement of data.”
Manitoba’s general farm organization, Keystone Agricultural Producers, said Thursday it hoped the major focus of the programming would be to ensure as many of the funding dollars as possible directly benefit farmers.
“When it comes to food safety and environmental programs, we believe the funding should cover off some of the farmer’s obligations and costs,” KAP president Ian Wishart, a Portage la Prairie farmer, said in a release.