Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

April 20, 2007 18:33 ET

AAFC: Minister Strahl Announces Details of 2006 Options Program

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 20, 2007) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, today announced the Canadian Farm Families Options Program (Options) will continue for a second year and will be open to those who received a payment for the 2005 program year.

"Canada's New Government is listening to producers and always evaluating how best to help them meet the challenges they face," said Minister Strahl. "As a result, only those who received a payment in the first year of the program will be eligible for year 2. We remain committed to investing in initiatives that support our farmers."

Many farm families participated in the Options program. More than $141 million was paid to 15,000 individual farmers and farm families across the country in addition to the business training and services that were offered to them. An evaluation will provide information on how to make programs more responsive to the needs of farm families.

Options will continue to be offered for the 2006 program year to farm families who received a payment in 2005 but will not be available to those who are not already enrolled.

Under the Options Program, these farm families are eligible to participate, at no cost, in services and programs to help them improve their farm or off-farm income. These services include the Farm Business Assessment (FBA) and Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS).

Producers who are not eligible for the 2006 Options program may still take advantage of programs and services offered by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) to help them assess their business, develop a business plan, take training to expand their skills and determine the feasibility of value-added opportunities. These services are offered through programs including the Canadian Farm Business Advisory Services (CFBAS), CASS and Planning and Assessment for Value-Added Enterprises (PAVE).

Canada's New Government is making investments which will help farm families earn a better living. A total of $4.5 billion in new funding has been committed to the agriculture sector through measures in Budget 2006 and Budget 2007. These investments include working with provincial and territorial partners to improve business risk management programming so that it is more predictable, bankable and better able to help producers respond to rising costs.


Canadian Farm Families Options Program (Options)
What Farmers Need to Know

What is Options?

Options is a pilot program that provides temporary financial support to lower-income farm families while they improve their income prospects for the long term. Farm families who participate are also required to undertake a Renewal program. These programs support farmers and farm families in setting business goals, developing a business plan to meet those goals and provide an opportunity to identify and access the necessary training to be competitive in today's agriculture environment.

Who is eligible for 2006?

Options will continue to be offered for the 2006 program year to farm families who received a payment in 2005 (including those whose payment was below $100 but were not issued cheques). Those who are not already enrolled in the 2005 program are not eligible for 2006. The deadline for the 2005 program has passed.

To be eligible for a 2006 payment, participants must also have completed or be in the process of undertaking a Farm Business Assessment or a business plan offered by the Canadian Farm Business Advisory Services (CFBAS) or an equivalent activity; or an Individual Learning Plan to pursue skills training through the Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS) or an equivalent activity.

Why is participation limited for year two?

Producers and farm leaders have said that Options is not the right kind of program to address chronic low income among farm families. Completing the Options program's second year will allow for an evaluation of the program, which will provide information on how to make programs more responsive to the needs of farm families.

How do I apply if I'm eligible?

If you received a payment for 2005 (or applied in 2005 but did not receive a cheque because the payment was less than $100), you will automatically receive by mail an application form for the 2006 program. The application and guide will be available in August 2007.

What is the application deadline?

The deadline to apply for the 2006 Canadian Farm Families Options Program is October 31, 2007.

How will payments be made?

Applicants will receive a payment based on their gross farm income and total income from all sources. Payments for Options are capped at $25,000 for farm families and $15,000 for individual farmers. For the 2006 program year, payments will be reduced by 25 percent to minimize dependency on the program. Applying the reduction, the maximum 2006 payment is $18,750 for farm families and $11,250 for individual farmers.

Options payments will also be prorated to ensure AAFC remains within the allocated budget for the program.

How can I get more information on the Options program?

For more information, farmers and their families can call toll free 1-866-367-8506 or visit the Options Web site (

What programs are available to help me improve my farm or off-farm income?
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has two programs designed specifically to help all producers become more profitable.

A Farm Business Assessment (FBA) will help you set goals for your business and develop a plan to meet these goals. Under the FBA, you will work with a consultant for up to five days to develop a farm financial assessment and an action plan. The cost of the FBA is free if you have received an Options payment.

The Canadian Agricultural Skills Service (CASS) will provide funding and practical assistance to help you and your spouse (if applicable) develop a learning program that will lead to increased opportunities for profitability and provide choices about sources of income. Funding is also provided to pay for skills training and associated costs.

Options participants can take part in FBA and CASS free of charge.

For more information on FBA or CASS, please visit or dial 1-866-452-5558.

Contact Information

  • Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Ottawa, Ontario
    Media Relations
    Minister Strahl's Office
    Conrad Bellehumeur
    Director of Communications