Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

October 30, 2006 18:03 ET

AAFC: Farm Families Given More Time to Apply for Options Program

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 30, 2006) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, today announced that farm families and individuals farmers will have an additional three weeks to sign up for the Canadian Farm Families Options program (Options).

The deadline extension means farm families now have until November 20 to apply. The original application deadline was October 31.

"Uptake on the Options program demonstrates this program is meeting a need within lower income farm families," said Minister Strahl. "To date, nearly 4899 farm families and individual farmers have received approximately $51.3 million, based on their commitment to pursue farm business or skills development training."

The Canadian Farm Families Options Program:

- provides immediate short-term income support to low income farm families and individual farmers. Eligible applicants receive an income payment based on their 2005 income tax return that brings their income up to a maximum of $25,000 for farm families and $15,000 for individual farmers if they operate a commercial farm.

- helps low income farm families explore options to raise their on or off-farm income for the future. Options applicants commit to completing participation in Farm Business Assessment (FBA), Canadian Agricultural Skills Services (CASS), or an equivalent activity within two years of submitting their Options application. These programs are being well received by participating producers.

Options applicants must be actively farming in 2006 to be eligible. Application forms are available on the Options program Website (www.agr.gc.ca/options). Applicants may download or print a PDF version of the Form and Guide, or call 1-866-367-8506 to receive a form by mail. The form and guide will be mailed within 24 hours of receiving the request.

The Options program is part of a $1.5 billion commitment to the agricultural sector introduced by Canada's New Government in Budget 2006.


BACKGROUNDER

Options is aimed at providing immediate financial relief to farm families and individual farmers while exploring long term solutions to increase their income options. Options clients leverage two Renewal programs specifically designed to assist producers in assessing their farm business or improving their knowledge and skills. Producers must commit to completing one of these activities, or an approved equivalent activity within two years of their Options application being received by the Administration.

A Farm Business Assessment (FBA) helps farmers set business goals and develop a plan to meet them. Under the FBA, a farmer works with a consultant for up to five days to develop a farm financial assessment and an action plan.

The Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS) provides Options clients with funding and practical assistance for skills services and training that will lead to increased opportunities for profitability and provide more choices about sources of income. Under CASS, a farmer and spouse will work with a consultant to develop individual learning plans and funding is provided to help pay for skills training and associated costs. Although CASS is not available in Quebec, equivalent approved training will be accepted.

Farmers' Testimonials

Canadian Farm Business Advisory Services - Farm Business Assessment (FBA)

"Through the FBA, we found a local business advisor who set up a business plan that included a two-year cash flow and a two-year income statement. He and I took the plan to Farm Credit Canada, who liked what they saw. They approved the loan without any problems, and we were able to buy the farm in April 2005. Our FBA business plan isn't just a one-shot deal; it's something we can use for a couple of years." (Farmer from Nova Scotia)

Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS)

"The CASS people were very helpful. The service gave us some important assistance on the financial side-it even helped with my travel and accommodation costs. I'd definitely recommend CASS to other farmers." (Dairy farmer from Nova Scotia)

"The farm-oriented courses have made me confident that I'm doing things the right way. It's also improved my grazing management, and it's given me ways to evaluate the farm so I can figure out which parts of the operation are making a profit. I've recommended it to other growers, and three people I know have already applied for it." (Cow/Calf farmer from Manitoba)

"I am taking an office administration course. This will help me get off-farm income to help with our farming. I think it is great that they are helping people who normally would not be able to afford to do anything like this. To other people considering taking advantage of CASS, I would say go for it. It paid for my tuition. It is helping to pay for mileage. This will help make ends meet. Times are tough. We have a beef cow-calf operation. This will be a way to supplement." (Cow/Calf farmer from Saskatchewan)

Contact Information

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