For immediate release
September 6, 2016 – The new NB Economic Growth Plan places new farmers on the list of priority areas to grow New Brunswick’s economy. The National Farmers Union in NB has been working on and advocating for a comprehensive, interdepartmental effort to create opportunities for new entrants in agriculture in recent years and welcomes this announcement.
During a briefing meeting this morning before the official plan launch, Susan Holt said that this plan is unique from other development plans in that it includes mandated and coordinated interdepartmental collaboration, which is exactly the type of support a new farmer initiative needs to be successful. The NFU envisions this collaboration including education and training, increased funding and funding programs that are accessible to new entrants, mentorship and guidance, as well as access to land programs and a comprehensive agricultural land policy to ensure that farmland stays in production and in the hands of NB farmers.
The NB Economic Growth Plan will also focus on the Local Food and Beverages Strategy including import replacement and setting targets for local products in procurement policies, all strategies the NFU-NB has advocated for years.
Other agricultural focus areas include: maple syrup production and tourism, marijuana and the expansion of the wild blueberry sector. The wild blueberry sector has faced significant challenges this year and the plan clearly states that: This opportunity [the wild blueberry sector] requires a strong eco-system which includes smaller local producers being given opportunity to fully participate. The NFU believes that some of the ways to develop the strong ecosystem that is needed include: the creation of a Regional Blueberry Marketing Board, allowing current producers who are operating on crown land to become land owners, as well as working with young growers who have already made significant personal investment into the sector to see their businesses succeed and expand.
The NFU-NB is wary that the plan was developed without considering the provincial climate reduction goals and that some of the priority areas will need to be revisited in order to meet the province’s emission reduction targets by 2030.
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The National Farmers Union in NB is one of two general farm organizations in the province. As a farmer driven organization, our members promote policies that maintain the family farm as the primary food producing unit. In the past year alone, the NFU-NB has provided ongoing feedback on the potential of increasing new farmers to the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries as well as Opportunities NB through meetings, public consultations and participation in the Social Innovations Lab process last winter. Our ideas and suggestions include making sure funding programs work for new entrants so they can access the capital that they need, provide training opportunities, including matching with mentors and launching a new farmer business accelerator training program. Other opportunities include creating a land bank of available agricultural land, support for succession planning, focused efforts to increase immigration to the agricultural sector and rural areas, and the importance of building NB’s local food economy including value added processing and local procurement targets.
Ted Wiggans, NFU-NB president, 506 366-3410
Amanda Wildeman, NFU-NB executive director, 506 260-0087