Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

July 31, 2006 13:50 ET

AAC: Canada's New Government Commits $550 Million Program to Help Lower Income Farm Families

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(CCNMatthews - July 31, 2006) - Following up on commitments made in Budget 2006, the Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board today announced an innovative new program to help lower-income farm families.

The Canadian Farm Families Options Program will:

- help lower-income farm families explore options to raise their income for the future. Applicants must commit to use business planning and skills development programs.

- provide short-term income support to lower-income farm families. Eligible applicants will receive a payment that will bring them to a maximum income of $25,000 for families and $15,000 for individuals if they have a commercial farm.

"This new government is committed to helping farmers who are under financial stress," said Minister Strahl. "Our new program not only gives short-term financial relief to those struggling farm families, but helps them look at ways to improve their income for the long-term."

Options is a pilot program, with a federal commitment of $550 million over two years. This program also offers additional business and technical assistance for which the federal government is covering the cost.

Application forms are now available on the program Web site and will be accepted until October 31, 2006. Payments will be made to farmers this fall.

Discussions are underway with Quebec to determine how the program will be delivered and a decision will be made shortly.

The announcement is part of this government's ongoing commitment to agriculture.

Producers can call toll free 1-866-367-8506

BACKGROUNDER

Canadian Farm Families Options Program - What Farmers Need to Know

Who can apply?

The Canadian Farm Families Options Program (Options) is a federal program open to farm families or individual farmers who have a total income of less than $25,000 or less than $15,000 respectively, in all provinces and territories.

To be eligible for this year, farmers must have gross farm revenues of at least $50,000 (before expenses) and must have filed farm income with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for 2005 and be farming in 2006.

For farm families operating corporate farms to be eligible, the family or individual farmer must hold at least 20 per cent of the corporation's outstanding common shares (voting and non-voting).

Status Indians farming on reserves who do not file returns for income tax purposes are eligible to participate providing they can supply the equivalent income information for farm and other income sources.

What will farm families need to do?

They need to apply to the Options program to receive a payment and they must commit to completing one of the following within two years of their application to Options:

- A Farm Business Assessment offered by the Canadian Farm Business Advisory Services (CFBAS) or an equivalent OR

- If they choose, an Individual Learning Plan and skills training through the Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS) or an equivalent

How do I apply?

Application forms are available on the Options program Web site at www.agr.gc.ca/options.

How will payments be calculated?

Applicants will receive payments based on their gross farm income and total income from all sources.

The Options payment will bring the total income of a farm family up to a maximum of $25,000 or $15,000 for individual farmers each year. For example, if a farm family has a total income of $17,000, the calculated benefit is $8,000.

For more information on the Options program, CFBAS or CASS please call toll free 1-866-367-8506.

Canadian Farm Business Advisory Services (CFBAS)

What is the Canadian Farm Business Advisory Service?

The Canadian Farm Business Advisory Service (CFBAS) provides a range of advisory services to help producers set goals for their business and develop plans to meet their goals. CFBAS is cost-shared between the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

How does the advisory service work?

The first step for producers is a one-on-one discussion with a CFBAS officer to identify what their needs are. This will include a review of the producers' past records and current situation, and discussion of objectives to determine options for improving their business prospects.

Producers will then have the opportunity to participate in the Farm Business Assessment (FBA) program. This component of CFBAS provides eligible producers with up to five days of consultation services, including a Farm Financial Assessment and Action Plan.

The cost of CFBAS will be covered for producers who receive a payment under the Canadian Farm Families Options Program (Options).

For more information on CFBAS or other renewal initiatives go to the Web site at www.agr.gc.ca/renewal or call 1-866-452-5558.

Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS)

What is the Canadian Agricultural Skills Service?

The Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS) is an existing program that provides funding and practical assistance so that farmers and their spouses can participate in learning programs. These programs can improve opportunities to increase business profitability and open up choices for alternate sources of income. CASS is cost-shared between the federal, provincial and territorial governments.

What does the service include?

CASS involves:

- An assessment to help producers identify their strengths and skills.

- If producers choose, the development of an Individual Learning Plan in which producers can identify courses in areas such as farm business management, accounting, finance and human resources management, or courses that will prepare them for other types of employment. A consultant will help them decide which courses or workshops would be the most helpful based on their goals.

- Funding to support formal training such as college programs and informal learning activities such as workshops and short courses. The funding covers tuition and fees, course materials, and, if needed, certain other costs associated with the training.

- A consultant available to producers for ongoing advice and support while they carry out their learning plan.

For more information on CASS, or to apply visit www.agr.gc.ca/cass or www.servicecanada.gc.ca or call toll free at 1-800 O Canada.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, ON
    Media Relations
    (613) 759-7972 or 1-866-345-7972
    or
    Minister Strahl's office
    Jeff Howard
    Press Secretary
    (613) 759-1059