Government stepping in to help grass fed-beef farms

Published on August 15, 2012
Beef farmer Frank Foster has been growing grass-fed beef since he immigrated to Canada in the 1970s. His financial struggles with the farm loan board became public earlier this year but now the government is stepping in with a new program to help beef farmers like Foster stay afloat.
Jocelyn Turner

By Jocelyn Turner

Amherst Daily News

AMHERST – A long-time Cumberland County farmer said it’s about time the government started investing in grass-fed beef in the province.

A $5.6 million investment has been made to support grass fed beef, agricultural innovation and green energy facilities; $2.2 million is going to support grass-fed beef as a specialty product.

Frank Foster of Linden Leas Ltd., recently made public their struggles with paying off loans to the Farm Loan Board. But the farmer said he thinks the government has noticed the error in their lack of support.

“I actually believe that, in time, democratic governments actually do the right thing,” he said. “I think that this government and the bureaucrats are coming to do the right thing kicking and screaming because of public pressure and demand.”

Foster said ways of rural life are on the decline because the wealth and advantage to farming in Nova Scotia is being overlooked.

“We’re about seven per cent self sufficient. A sovereign nation needs to be at least 60 per cent (self-sufficient) to call itself sovereign. Nova Scotia calls itself sovereign,” he said. “It’s supposed to be the government’s job to make sure that its citizens have food. We only have food if it’s shipped in.”

Foster said he is hoping grass-fed beef farming will kick off once again with the government’s support.

“To me, all we have tried to do is keep all of the commerce, trade and money in beef circulating within the province and now, over time, it’s become self-evident to everybody that we have to look after ourselves. Home grown has merit.”

Scott Armstrong, the Conservative MP for the Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley said the new program is set up to help beef farmers in the province.

“Growing opportunities is helping the Atlantic Innovations Centre,” he said. “What (the centre) does is help all the farmers in Nova Scotia and particularly the ones in our riding innovate and find new markets for their different products to different areas in the world and our own country.”

Armstrong also said there will be funding coming to the beef testing station.

“The beef testing is really important to the beef farmers in our riding,” he said. “There are three different sections to these funds. It’s going throughout the province to smaller operations.”

Although the project is designed to benefit beef producers, whether or not the government’s project will help Foster’s farm, Foster said, will become clearer in time.