It was a unanimous decision around the horseshoe in Prince Edward County to approve the Farming Assistance Grant Program.
Farming Assistance Ad-Hoc Committee chair John Thompson and vice-chair Aaron Armstrong made a presentation to council requesting a maximum of $40,000 for this year to help support new and young farmers.
Armstrong told councillors there are very specific criteria farmers need to meet in order to be eligible for program assistance.
A few councillors were concerned about loopholes in the process such as established farmers who don’t qualify for the grant to bring in new farmers to then meet the criteria.
CAO James Hepburn told council they did want to make sure succession planning is part of this process.
He also said they will refine this process based on the data they receive but there is some risk this year.
Councillor Steve Ferguson stated this is a step in the right direction but he wanted to know if there was any way they could weigh the needs of one farmer over another.
Armstrong replied that the committee didn’t want that juried process to occur nor did they want this process to be unduly intrusive either.
Council was told the committee believes there are approximately 108 farmers that are currently eligible for grant assistance.
Farmers would receive a minimum of $300 or 20% of their annual farm tax bill, whichever is greater.
This would cost approximately $39,340 in 2018, $44,712 in 2019 and $50,603 in 2020.
Council also approved the inclusion of the grant in the 2019 and 2020 budget process.
The funding for this year will come from the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve.