New funding from the provincial and federal governments promises to get farmers’ markets through emergencies.
Farmers’ markets can apply for up to $15,000 until Jan. 28 on a first-come, first-served basis or until available funding under the one-time program of $475,000 is used up.
Lana Popham, provincial minister of agriculture, food and fisheries, said in a release that the funding will help farmers’ markets stay open and operate during emergencies so British Columbians can access the foods on which they count. “Through the pandemic and extreme weather events the province has seen over the last year and a half, the importance of local food has never been greater,” she said. “Markets will be able to grow and welcome more vendors while keeping everyone healthy and safe.”
Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, said this funding will help farmers in British Columbia bounce back in the coming years by making sure farmers’ markets can serve communities in need.
Farmers’ markets can use the funding for signs and merchandising, storage and transportation, as well as for power and operations costs. Eligible applicants include non-profit groups, co-operatives, for-profit corporations, local governments and First Nations operating farmers’ markets that primarily sell provincial food and beverage products. Farmers’ markets must have been operating for at least one year (established prior to November 2020) or operated in the summer 2021 season to be eligible.
Heather O’Hara, executive director for the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets, which is helping to deliver the reimbursement-based program, said the program represents a critical investment in the resiliency of local farmers’ markets, which have risen to the challenge and fed communities throughout COVID, forest fires and flooding.
“Community-based farmers’ markets across B.C. are a key anchor for local and regional food systems supporting thousands of local farm, food and artisanal businesses,” O’Hara said.
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