The province’s Department of Agriculture Aquaculture and Fisheries has funded $273,000 to the Cooperation Agri-food New-Brunswick initiative, announced on April 6, 2017. The Co-op’s goal is to be operational by September of this year – that means working through the summer to purchase, process and store NB-grown food and move it into NB schools to feed NB students when classes begin again in the fall. The initiative is encouraging, but some NFU-NB members have voiced concern about the potential for produce price being the primary factor in purchasing decisions. While it’s an important factor to make sure the system works, we continue to advocate that the overall economic benefits also need to be taken into consideration.
“It is exciting to see how quickly Cooperation Agri-food New-Brunswick has been put together. It demonstrates real interest from government to achieve their goal of 30% NB food products in NB schools.”
– Philippe Gervais, NFU-NB Youth President, NFU-NB liaison to Co-operation Agri-food NB
It is important to note that the co-op will not and cannot be a perfect fit to involve all scales and sizes of farms in the province. The way in which the co-op develops, and what ed-pillsss will come out of it, is yet to be seen. While there are no official members to date, voting memberships will be exclusive to non-profit organizations. Current development partners include: Carrefour Communautaire Beausoleil, CÉ D’ICI, NFU-NB, the Agricultural Alliance of NB, Le Réseau des Cafétérias Communautaires, La Récolte de Chez-Nous, TFA, L’APOMME, Co-op Enterprise Council, Coopérative de Développement Régional Acadie, and the Government of NB.
Find the province’s Local Food and Beverage Strategy here, and the NFU-NB’s press release on the initiative here. We will share more information about the structure and efforts of Co-operation Agri-food NB as it becomes available – watch for further news about this project as it moves forward.