N.S. revamps loan-relief plan for new farmers

A new program to help new Nova Scotia farmers repay their startup borrowings is being promoted as an improvement on its predecessor.

The province on Thursday rolled out FarmNext at the annual meeting of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture in Truro, as a replacement for the previous New Entrants to Agriculture program, which is already closed for 2010-11.

"We are aligning resources to help farmers make ends meet and to support the long-term viability of farm operations in Nova Scotia," Agriculture Minister John MacDonell said in a release. "Funds are being allocated to new entrants in the most relevant, effective and responsible way."

Applications for FarmNext will be accepted through the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board starting April 1, the province said.

Eligible new farmers may be able to receive up to $30,000 in loan relief from the program when starting a farm business, or up to $20,000 in loan relief when buying an established farm business.

Commitments to the previous New Entrants to Agriculture program, which has run for 10 years, will be met before FarmNext comes into effect, the province said. The last funding deadline for New Entrants to Agriculture passed on Feb. 28 this year.

Applicants through the New Entrants plan were able to apply once in a given two-year period, for benefits of up to $10,000 per year for two years, or for repayment of interest on qualifying loans in the same time period, whichever was less.

FarmNext "will better meet the needs of Nova Scotians wanting to enter the agriculture industry," the province said.

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