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Farming assistance grants program report to council Thursday

Councillors will hear about the proposed grant program for young and new farmers at Thursday’s committee of the whole meeting.

John Thompson, chair, and Aaron Armstrong vice-chair of the Farming Assistance Ad-Hoc Committee are to present the report of the committee seeking approval for the Farming Assistance Grant Program to be approved for the 2018 tax year and included for consideration in the 2019 and 2020 budgets.

Maximum funding in the amount of $40,000 is requested to be approved for 2018 grants to young and new farmers. The 2018 grants are proposed to be funded from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve and disbursed through the County Cultivation Corporation.

The farming assistance committee was established by council in March to develop a grant proram to support young and new farmers impacted by increasing farm land values.

Using 2016 Census data, it is estimated there are 108 eligible farms in the County. There were 740 farmers in that Census – with 15 per cent under age 40 and 10 per cent were new farmers. There were 432 farms in the County in the 2016 Census.

Eligible farmers can receive a minimum grant of $300 up to a maximum of 20 per cent of their annual farm tax bill, whichever is greater.

Based on the estimates, potential funding requirements for this year – for an average tax levy per farm of $1,821, the grant based on 20 per cent of the farm tax bill, would be $364 with a total grant requirement of $39,340, based on the number of eligible farms.

2019 could see $44,712 allocated for $414 grants based on 20 per cent of an average tax levy per form of $2,070.

2010 could see $50,603 allocated for $469 grants based on average tax levy per farm of $2,343.

The committee gathered public input in May and June and over the course of five meetings, developed recommendations for the program, eligbility requirements, the application process, funding thresholds and anticipated benefits.

Members include Agricultural Advisory Committee representatives, a member of the National Farmers Union and a councillor.

The committee conducted research into financial assistance programs offered by
neighbouring, and Ontario, municipalities that have significant agricultural activities. The ad-hoc committee also researched programs, grants and methods of financial assistance that are available to farmers in the County through the federal and provincial governments or other agricultural agencies.

Their research confirmed that there are no programs, grants and methods of financial assistance similar to the grant program for new and young farmers that council contemplated.

Eligibility requirements include:
– The farm must have a Farm Business Number or be pre-registered for a Farm
Business Number and be engaged in farming activities on the farmland that the
grant is being requested for.
– Farmers must be between the ages of 18 years and 39 years on January 1 of the
year that the grant will be provided; OR
– Farmers must be engaged in farming activities for less than seven years on
January 1 of the year that the grant will be provided. The date that a farm
received its Farm Business Registration number or pre-registration letter will
determine the date a new farmer commenced farming.
– Farming is the primary occupation of the young or new farmer.
A farm will be eligible for a grant if the farm ownership structure is as follows:
– The young or new farmer is the sole proprietor; or
– The young or new farmer is a partner in a partnership; or
– The young or new farmer is a shareholder in a farming corporation.

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