On Tuesday 13 July, Claude Béchard, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in Quebec, announced the creation of an investment fund for the "the next generation of Farmers" (FIRA) which will support young people in Quebec interested in becoming owners of agricultural land as future farmers.
It’s a difficult context: a decrease in income for farmers in Quebec, a drop in harvest prices, higher prices for agricultural land, the rise of the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar since 2007, increasingly unstable and volatile international markets. This is why the Canadian government has decided to give the younger generation access to resources which will ensure the next phase in agriculture.
The funding, totalling $75 million CAD and funded jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Desjardins group, and the Solidarity Fund QFL, has several objectives: establish young farmers, ensure the diversification of agriculture in Quebec, support the sustainability of agricultural enterprises, create and maintain jobs, and ensure that this reflects on the economic development of Quebec.
For the Desjardins group, this investment fund will represent the cornerstone of the development of Quebec’s agriculture in the coming decades. Note that these measures are by far the most generous in North America in this domain. New debates have emerged on the possible repositioning of agriculture in Quebec, while the last debate on this issue dates back thirty years to the era of former Agriculture Minister Jean Garon and his principle of food self-sufficiency. Moreover, in an interview with the Canadian website "la presse affaires” (the business press), the President of the Union of Agricultural Producers (UPA), Christian Lacasse said it was time to "thoroughly review Quebec’s agricultural policy”.
This investment fund for young farmers and the issues surrounding it clearly demonstrate that Québec considers agriculture a strategic sector for the future. But it also represents a concrete initiative to develop sustainable agriculture by stabilizing the economic environment within which these young producers evolve; notably high instability in international markets.