Quebec budgets $10M to showcase ag “multifunctionality”

Projects that provide benefits both to Quebec’s farms and their surrounding communities will share a new $10 million pot of provincial funding.

The Quebec ag ministry (MAPAQ) on Monday announced a four-year pilot program designed to support development of “multifunctionality” in the province’s ag sector.

Multifunctionality — a concept that’s gained traction in agricultural policy in recent decades especially in the European Union and Japan — implies that an activity such as farming has various other roles in the well-being of a community, nation or society and should be supported for those benefits.

Quebec’s farms are an “important economic engine” for the province, but also paint the province’s rural landscape and occupy and add value to Quebec’s territory, Agriculture Minister Pierre Corbeil said in a release.

To support that idea, the pilot program is expected to back developments, for example, such as agroforestry on abandoned land, improvements on pastureland or restoration of rural buildings or structures of interest.

The program will focus specifically on farms booking less than $150,000 per year in gross ag revenue, the province said. A successful applicant could get up to $30,000 over three years toward a given project, while three of more farms working together on a project could apply for additional incentives of up to $5,000 per farm.

The program will focus on 55 specific counties and municipalities by virtue of certain “biophysical and geographical” characteristics. Those communities are also in a better position to make changes within their regional land use plans, the province said.

The pilot program offers farmers the opportunity to work with their communities on projects that will yield benefits not only for the farms themselves but for the local economy, environment and society in general, Corbeil said.

The program’s first application period will run from May 1 to Sept. 15 this year, the province said. More information is available on the program’s web page.

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