Plan for profitability

Jason Malloy
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10-year plan released during federation’s AGM

Nappan farmer Doug Bacon asks a question of Agriculture Minister John MacDonell during the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture’s annual general meeting in Truro last Thursday. Jason Malloy - The Citizen

TRURO – A 10-year plan aims at making the agriculture industry profitable for Nova Scotia farmers.

“I have great optimism for the industry,” Agriculture Minister John MacDonell told a crowd of farmers this week.

“My job is to try to get programs in place that help get you there.”

His comments come during his announcement of the 10-year plan, Homegrown Success. The 22-page document was launched in Truro during the opening day of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture’s annual general meeting.

“You have to be an innovator, a motivator, a marketer,” MacDonell said after his speech. “We want to make it clear to the industry that this plan is about that for us, as a department, to help them get there.”

The plan doesn’t come with specific price tag and is meant to be a “fluid” document that will change as needed over the years.

“If you’re looking for one of the pages to say ‘there will be seven new blueberry producers in 2014,’ it’s not going to say that,” said MacDonell.

Onslow farmer Jim Lorraine said he hopes there is an educational component for farmers as part of the 10-year plan. He said some farmers are underselling their products and losing money so they don’t lose a customer.

MacDonell also announced $400,000 in enhanced funding for the soil amendment program.

An old idea was again reiterated, dealing with getting more Nova Scotia products into the provincial institutions such as schools, hospitals and jails.

Former premier John Hamm pledged support to the idea in 2004, yet it is still not where many had hoped it would be.

“We’re doing a study,” MacDonell said, “... that won’t just sit on the shelves.”

He said when the report is complete in the spring a stakeholders forum will be held to see what opportunities are available. The minister said the tendering process may have to change, but it also has to see what is allowed under an interprovincial trade agreement.

Cumberland County farmer Doug Bacon was pleased with MacDonell’s announcement on the provincial institutions but said, “You will be held accountable.”

The 10-year plan is available online at www.gov.ns.ca/agri

Organizations: Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Cumberland County

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