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Indigenous communities in British Columbia that are interested in developing agriculture businesses and supporting local food security will soon have more tools to plan and pursue those opportunities.

Professional and qualified business consultants with experience in building agriculture ventures are able to provide site-specific guidance on the types of crops or livestock that may do well in the community, with further support to develop comprehensive financial and business plans to help ensure a successful agriculture business.

“Our government is very pleased to partner with British Columbia to support the B.C. Indigenous Agriculture Development Program,” said Lawrence MacAulay, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector has incredible potential for growth, and this new program will help Indigenous farmers and communities take important steps towards creating well-paying jobs and long-term economic development.”

Supporting the planning of farming projects builds food security, which is of benefit to Indigenous peoples around the province. Indigenous communities, Tribal Councils and economic development corporations are eligible to apply for this support through the B.C. Indigenous Agriculture Development Program, to access funding provided by the governments of Canada and British Columbia.

“I’ve been so excited to meet with First Nations leaders and community members across B.C. and to learn how they want to develop agriculture and food production,” said Lana Popham, B.C.’s Minister of Agriculture. “This program will make an important contribution to that effort as it helps First Nations in B.C. plan and develop farming projects that will build food security and create local jobs. It is my hope this program will act as a catalyst for new agriculture operations in Indigenous communities throughout our province.”

“The Community Futures Development Corporation of Central Interior First Nations is looking forward to working with the federal and provincial governments in delivering agricultural programs and business services to Indigenous farmers and producers in B.C.,” said Trevor Kempthorne, agriculture business development manager, Community Futures Development Corporation of Central Interior First Nations.

The program criteria and funding available includes:

  • Providing successful applicants up to $5,000 of services from a qualified business consultant to complete a feasibility assessment of agricultural development options and business planning functions related to agriculture. The assessments could include everything from reviewing the current agricultural resource base, to providing economic analysis of the agricultural options, with the end goal of identifying opportunities with the highest likelihood to succeed.
  • Once the first step of identifying the best options is completed, funding of up to $10,000 will be available to work with a qualified business consultant to conduct agriculture financial and business planning. The plans could include business and marketing strategies, costs of production and financial analysis, operational planning, as well as support from the consultant and technical training, to help build the skills and capacity of the successful applicant to implement their agriculture or agri-food business venture.

The B.C. Indigenous Agriculture Development Program is open for applications and will run for the duration of the five-year Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The partnership is a federal-provincial-territorial $3-billion investment that includes $2 billion in cost-shared strategic initiatives delivered by the provinces and territories, and $1 billion for federal programs and services, through March 2023.