Ag lender pledges new approach to Indigenous people

The country’s top ag lender says that in order to serve Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs, it needs to “better understand” them.

“Diversification of Canada’s agriculture and food industry is one of our top priorities,” said Michael Hoffort, president and CEO of Farm Credit Canada. “It begins with developing a deeper understanding of Indigenous agriculture — the history, barriers, aspirations and opportunities of today.”

FCC said it is providing “extensive Indigenous awareness and relations training” to more than 2,000 of its employees.

“The training is meant to help employees better understand the legislative and systemic barriers that prevent Indigenous communities from fully participating in Canada’s agriculture industry,” the lender said in a news release.

The move comes after a survey of Indigenous people in the agriculture and agri-food sector. More than 70 per cent of those surveyed said they plan to increase their participation in the sector, and that access to capital and a lack of knowledge were key barriers.

“In order to sustain the growth needed to re-establish Indigenous food security, respondents placed a high priority on the need to create agricultural and financial learning opportunities for Indigenous youth,” the FCC release said.

Almost half of those surveyed see significant opportunities in greenhouse operations, community gardens, Indigenous foods and food processing.

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