New farmers in Nova Scotia now have a resource to help them start their business. Agriculture Minister John MacDonell launched the new Thinkfarm initiative on Aug. 25, which provides information on available programs and services.
"We have been getting frequent requests for information and support from new entrants in the agriculture sector, so we focused on providing resources to meet their needs," said Mr. MacDonell.
"Our agriculture industry is in a state of transition and we are encouraging new farmers to be diversified, market-focused and profitable so that we can create good jobs and grow the economy."
Department of Agriculture staff developed a four-year project funded through Growing Forward, a federal-provincial-territorial agriculture initiative.
"This is a tremendous initiative that will help new farmers get the resources they need to start a farm business," said federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "We are pleased to partner with Nova Scotia to make these kinds of smart investments that will help beginning farmers get off on the right foot and also make the agriculture industry stronger for the future."
The Thinkfarm program includes a co-ordinator working on resources for new farmers, a guidebook, resource fact sheets and a website www.gov.ns.ca/agri/thinkfarm/
provides a one-stop location for all information.
"Department staff are excited to have a program dedicated to working with beginning farmers from a variety of backgrounds," said Kevin Bekkers, agricultural resource co-ordinator with the Department of Agriculture. "The people getting into agriculture now are not the same people we saw 10 or 20 years ago. The Thinkfarm program allows us to respond to the current needs of the industry and support this new group of farmers who are crucial to the continued viability of the farming sector in Nova Scotia."
"As new farmers, we were impressed by the program and it helped us immensely in pursuing our small farm dream," said Greg and Melissa Ross, of Millville, Cape Breton Regional Municipality.
Department staff continue to work to identify additional programs and services that meet the needs of new farmers.