Funding will begin to flow right away from the new bilateral five-year $176-million agreement signed between Manitoba and the federal government last week, Manitoba Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler says.
This is the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), part of an overall $3-billion federal program supporting cost-shared initiatives delivered by the provinces and territories, to be consolidated into one program here and called Ag Action Manitoba.
Manitoba Agriculture will administer the program to support a wide variety of activities and strategic investments.
Eichler spoke to a Keystone Agricultural Producers’ (KAP) meeting in Portage la Prairie last Friday after signing the agreement alongside federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay at the St. Boniface Hospital Albrechtsen Research Centre last week.
“It’s a big deal for us,” the provincial minister said at KAP, noting when he assumed his post two years ago, most of the previous suite of funds had already been allocated.
“Now we have access to a new set of funding. We’re hitting the reset button,” he said.
Eichler said his government is committed to making the funds available as quickly as it can and encouraged those who were not successful applicants in previous go-rounds to make sure they pursue these opportunities.
“We have it in the hopper right now,” he said. They’ve also begun to receive applications.
“We’re hoping I can get applications approved in the month of April and start flowing that money very, very soon,” he said.
Applicants will also find the forms have been simplified and the approval process streamlined, he said. That addresses concerns that previous applications were too complicated and approval processes took too long.
One area the program will support is watershed projects for the delivery of ecological goods and services (EGS), according to the provincial website. Funds will be available on a cost-shared basis for conservation districts to co-ordinate and work with farmers implementing practices in one or more focus areas to enhance EGS delivery on the agricultural landscape.
The bilateral agreement will also flow funds to agri-processors, industry organizations, researchers and industry service providers to “support a sustainable, profitable and environmentally responsible agriculture sector,” a provincial news release stated.
The focus is on industry-led research, innovation, market development and competitiveness, with six priority areas including, science, research and innovation; markets and trade; environmental sustainability and climate change; value-added agriculture and agri-food processing; public trust; and risk management. The program also has a suite of business risk-management programs to help farmers manage risks threatening farm viability.
“The Canadian Agricultural Partnership will help the sector in Manitoba continue to innovate, grow and prosper,” stated federal Minister of Agriculture Lawrence MacAulay in a news release.
“We are committed to expanding business opportunities for Canadian producers, ranchers and processors, and strengthening the middle class by helping the agricultural sector reach its full potential.”
Eichler thanked KAP delegates for their input into how to make the agreement work for Manitobans.
“With your help and your input through meetings we’ve had over the last two years it’s finally become a reality, ” he said.
“It’s a very positive step forward,” agreed KAP president Dan Mazier.
“Now the province can get really serious about what programming they want to do,” he said. “This is a chance for them to reset, not so much set things in a new direction but start steering the ship in a different direction.”
Information about how to apply to program activities will be posted at the Manitoba Agriculture website under Canadian Agriculture Partnership as details become available.
Farmers, agri-processors, industry organizations, researchers and others are also encouraged to sign up for the digital newsletter at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/online-resources/signup-for-growing-manitoba-ag.html to receive updates on program information.
Details will also be shared on Manitoba Agriculture’s Twitter channel.