The Prince George-based “Beyond The Market” Program is putting forth of a motion to extend funding for its farm support program.
Council voted unanimously this week to work with the Union of BC Municipalities and advocate for better agriculture business.
Phil Myatovic with Cariboo Growers, has been a farmer his entire life, but without the support of young farmers, he says his family business could come to an end. “If I can’t sell it to a young farmer it will just shut down,” said Myatovic. “I mean, society is moving more to factory farms, because they seem to produce cheaper, they have government inputs in a big way which we don’t.”
According to Beyond The Market, B.C. has the oldest farmers in the country at an average age of 56 years old. That’s why the program is asking provincial and federal governments for annual funding of $330,000 in support of farm initiatives. The focus is on farm business coaching, training programs, outreach, and advocacy in the agriculture industry.
Program Coordinator, Christine Kinnie, says the Beyond The Market program is looking to provide a number of workshops to help farmers with their business model. “There’s a lack of skills that needs to be brought to these rural communities and its hard for them to access, so what we do is we deliver workshops in small communities across Highway 16.”
Once a young farmer himself, Myatovic sees training as the foundation for young farmers. “Many years ago they used to have an experimental farm to show young farmers how its done, but that’s all disappeared, there’s no provisions for that right now.”
Council will now urge the province to extend funding to the program, otherwise Kinnie says the project could soon be over. “If the province doesn’t take it on, then we may be wrapping up the project, this would be the last year because this is something, agriculture is the responsibility of the province and the federal government.”
Beyond The Market is still waiting for a response from the provincial government with hopes its program will grow.