Nova Scotia will be an even more attractive choice for new and beginning farmers with the expansion of the province’s FarmNEXT program. The program will receive an additional $400,000 in 2014-15 to help revitalize the sector and ease the financial burden for farmers just starting out. Premier Darrell Dexter made the announcement today, Aug. 23, as part of the Meet Your Farmer at the Mall event in Dartmouth. “Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada to see an increase in the number of farms since 2009,” said Premier Dexter. “That means farmers are recognizing that Nova Scotia is a great place to build their career and a life for their families. “This additional support will help ensure even more new and beginning farmers choose Nova Scotia, which is key to the long-term prosperity of the agriculture industry in this province.” The FarmNEXT program supports new farms and beginning farmers by reducing borrowing costs. Farmers starting a new farm can receive up to $30,000 in benefits, while those taking over an existing operation can receive up to $20,000 in benefits. Those benefits are assigned to the farmer’s loan through the Farm Loan Board. “The province deserves credit for recognizing the need to help new farmers access land and capital,” said Owen Roberts, owner of Four Seasons Farm, a small, organic vegetable farm in Maitland. “FarmNEXT gave us a significant boost to be able to buy our farm.” “Every opportunity to encourage new entrants and successful transition in our industry is welcome,” said Dennis Boudreau, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. “Availability of such funding will make it easier to have a successful farm operation and achieve financial stability and a better chance of success in the future.” This additional support brings the total investment in the FarmNEXT program to $1 million next year. “This program not only makes things more affordable for farmers, it also ensures they get access to the business advice they need to be successful,” said Agriculture Minister John MacDonell. “Participants receive coaching in business planning and ongoing financial advice from department staff and private sector specialists to help them run a strong and sustainable business.” Meet Your Farmer at the Mall is an initiative of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and the provincial and federal governments, to create and improve relationships with Nova Scotia farmers and consumers. For more information, visit www.meetyourfarmer.ca/ . Details on the province’s FarmNEXT program are available at www.gov.ns.ca/agri/farmlb/info/farm-next.shtml .