Sask., N.S. sign onto ag policy framework

The Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia governments have each co-signed their agreements with the federal government on the specifics of their funding through the new Growing Forward ag policy framework.

Growing Forward is Ottawa and the provinces’ replacement for the previous five-year federal/provincial Agricultural Policy Framework (APF, 2003-08). The new $1.3 billion agreement is intended to cover cost-shared ag-related programming, except for business risk management (BRM) programs, across the country.

The signings, both announced Monday, provide each province with their budgets for “non-BRM” programming. As per their agreements, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia get over $216 million over four years and almost $25 million over five years, respectively, out of the total five-year non-BRM federal/provincial budget.

“The suite of programs announced will provide flexibility to Saskatchewan producers, by allowing them to select from the programming available to meet their operation’s needs,” the Saskatchewan government said in its release.

In Saskatchewan, the Growing Forward funding over four years will go toward non-BRM programs such as:

  • $52.8 million for a provincewide roll-out of the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program (FRWIP), previously available in the province’s parched southwest, to pay 50 per cent of costs (up to $60,000 per applicant) for eligible on-farm wells, dugouts and shallow or deep-buried pipelines, or two-thirds of costs up to $150,000 per rural municipality or First Nations band, for approved community well projects.
  • $13.2 million for voluntary food safety systems, including on-farm food safety, “post-farm” food safety for processors, and biosecurity/voluntary traceability programs, details of which are expected in the next few weeks.
  • $32 million for environmental programming such as Environmental Farm Plans (EFPs), Group Planning and the adoption of beneficial management practices (BMPs), funding for which was introduced under the previous APF. For example, groups of producers can get support to address a “single environmental issue” facing all of them, and individual farmers can partially offset the costs of implementing BMPs such as moving livestock facilities away
    from streams, rivers and lakes.
  • $50.7 million for “agriculture innovation and commercialization,” including existing levels of provincial research and development spending, plus another $8 million of new funding, to “enhance the industry’s capacity and ability to utilize state-of-the-art research and development infrastructure,” with details to be available this summer.
  • $27.3 million for farm business programs, with applications available later this month for up to $4,000 per eligible farmer to help fund participation in financial, production, risk management, marketing, human resources and succession planning programs, as well as value-added business development, including product and prototype development, marketing, systems improvements and skills training.
  • $40.9 million in funding for initiatives such as extension and youth, water resource protection and various federally administered programs.

On the provincewide expansion of FRWIP, the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association on Monday hailed the government’s move. SSGA president Ed Bothner said FRWIP components, such as the development of community wells and well-to-pasture pipelines, “are cost-effective strategies that can make a significant contribution to our capacity to withstand drought.”

As well, “we are pleased to see continued emphasis by government in the areas of on-farm food safety and environmental protection as well as funding for business innovation and development projects.” said Daryk Simonson, chair of the SSGA’s policy and trade committee.

Nova Scotia’s Growing Forward funds, meanwhile, will go toward programs that focus on “supporting innovation, commercialization and profitability for our farmers,” provincial Ag Minister Mark Parent said in a release Monday.

“The (provincial) department of agriculture, in partnership with our agriculture and agri-food industry, will continue to support flexible program development that will meet the unique needs and opportunities of Nova Scotia.”

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