One of the most intimidating aspects of direct marketing a farm-grown product is knowing the rules for safe food handling and other regulatory and production requirements.
Last week, the province announced it has reassigned two business development specialists with Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Development staff to roles that will avail them to processors and the smaller-scale farmer so they can find the answers and help they need
Jayne Kjaldgaard, a professional home economist, will work with both startup and existing processors.
“It’s tough for a lot of new clients to understand where they need to go first,” said Kjaldgaard, whose most recent role with the department’s food commercialization and marketing branch involved setting up various training programs for new and existing food business owners. She has also developed a list of inspected permitted kitchens for small-scale processors.
She may not have immediate answers to people’s questions but she’s there to help people find them, she said.
“I’ll be the name and the face to the avenue into understanding what our department can assist them with,” said Kjaldgaard, who is located at the Teulon MAFRD office.
Eastman’s new job assignment shifts the focus he’s had on provincial fish farming to begin working with new farm entrants and small-scale producers. His focus is on the production side, he said.
“My role is to use the extension model to reach small-scale producers on the issues common to them,” he said.
Both are excited about their new job assignments and say they look forward to meeting and helping prospective new farmers and small processors in Manitoba.
“I’ve always believed in local food production and always supported it in my own personal life. I’m excited about the challenge,” said Eastman, whose office is based at the University of Manitoba’s Livestock Knowledge Centre.
The local food and farm specialists were introduced at a press event held at St. Norbert’s Farmers’ Market last week by Dr. Wayne Lees, who chaired the task force calling for the creation of these positions.
“It’s constructive and very encouraging to have Jeff and Jayne specifically tasked to support the small-scale food industry,” he said. “They’re both extremely capable people and they’re going to do a great job.”