ON THE FARM: Funding farm innovation

Glenn Ells
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By Glenn Ells

I’m writing this on the first day of spring. The cover of snow on the fields in view from my window doesn’t look very spring-lie. The cold wind cancels out the sunshine, which is interrupted by clouds so often enough so to have little effect on the snow and ice on the lawn. 

That “spring feeling” is not here yet. I even got out the seed catalogues, hoping that the overstated photos would change my mood, to no avail.  There is a hint of spring sometimes so we are on the brink of shaking off that winter feeling that has worn out its welcome long ago. Maybe by Tuesday when you read this it will feel like spring.

Last Tuesday evening, there was an information meeting at the Old O to tell farmers in the area what the rules will be regarding the Growing Forward program. There have been several adjustments made to the levels of assistance, but the most noticeable change is the termination of the “first come, first served” way of handling applications. In the past, if the funds ran out before your application was processed, you were out of luck.

This year, applications are accepted during April. In May, they are all reviewed and awards made on merit. It seems fairer. The provincial minister is making it clear that the main criteria this year follow the theme of the Ivany Report: effects on farm profits and benefits to the rural economy will determine which projects are funded.

I had not attended farm meetings for several years and went to gather information for our son, Stephen, who is establishing a vineyard. Maybe I’m getting long in the tooth, but the farm operators at the meeting looked very young. I think that Ray Ivany will be pleased to see what this bunch of innovators will do for the economy of this Valley over the next five years. The mixture of youth and experience looked very encouraging to me. It was clear from the questions asked that these people were running serious businesses and were not there looking for handouts, but, instead, ways to increase efficiency and profitability.

Today, there was a report of a local business that is planning on doubling its output. They don’t make tires or anything electronic. They make pies, freeze them and sell them all over this continent. Their raw products are apples and other fruit, which is mostly locally produced. This is the kind of economic impact that I can understand and applaud. 


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