Quebec service to match farmland sellers, young buyers

The Quebec and federal governments are putting up funds for a different kind of online match site: one to connect aspiring young farmers with producers who are either retiring or wanting to sell or rent farmland.

The two governments on Tuesday announced $300,000 for the Centre de reference en agriculture et agroalimentaire du Quebec (CRAAQ) to set up L’Arterre, a web platform to co-ordinate such services.

Following the merger of the province’s Land Bank, set up by the Brome-Missisquoi MRC (regional county/municipality) and the Farm Bank, set up by the Centre d’innovation sociale en agriculture (CISA), the two organizations asked CRAAQ, their partner in the land bank services, to create the new platform and co-ordinate the matching service.

L’Arterre is to be offered to all MRCs across Quebec, the two governments said Tuesday.

CRAAQ, in a separate statement, said the new service, when available, will both merge and enhance the two bank projects’ services.

The senior governments’ support will include $150,000 via the Growing Forward 2 federal/provincial ag policy funding framework, and $150,000 over two years from the provincial youth secretariat, as part of its five-year (2016-21) youth action plan.

“Needless to say L’Arterre will be a very effective tool designed to make it easier for the next generation to access farmland and to ensure the dynamic use of land in our regions,” Quebec Agriculture Minister Pierre Paradis said in a release.

L’Arterre “will help start-up enterprises find the land they need to carry out their plans,” he said, noting that was a recommendation from the 2008 Pronovost report on the future of agriculture and agri-food in Quebec.

A number of MRCs have already included participation in this initiative in their agricultural zone development plans (PDZAs), he added.

“Whether it’s to follow in their parents’ footsteps or simply to live their entrepreneurial dreams in one of the most important sectors of the Quebec economy, more and more young Quebecers want to start an agricultural venture,” provincial MNA Karine Vallieres, the parliamentary assistant to the premier for youth, said in the province’s release.

“Agriculture must remain an attractive and profitable career choice for young people to ensure the sustainability of agricultural sector,” Quebec MP Jean-Claude Poissant, the federal parliamentary secretary for agriculture and agri-food, said in Tuesday’s release.

“The next generation has to be prepared, and in order for this to happen, we need to make it easier to start a farm business and support the expansion of existing farms.” –– Network

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