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Farmers work on action plan, Minister assures agriculture program coming soon

WATCH ABOVE: The Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick is working on an action plan to try and address the issues facing the sector. It's a sector that employs 11-thousand people in the province, and the Government of New Brunswick says they realize how important it is to New Brunswickers, but a lot has to be done. Global's Laura Brown reports.

FREDERICTON – It’s a sector that employs 11,000 people in the province, and remains the second highest GDP earner, but the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick says they need a plan to ensure the agricultural sector’s growth.

The Alliance is working on an action plan to try to address the issues facing the sector.

READ MORE: N.B. farmers vow to continue push for legislation after local food bill defeated

“Our land prices are relatively cheap compared to the rest of Canada, we are getting immigration looking at New Brunswick, so if we can get a good structure for agricultural producers, it’s more attractive for producers to come here,” said Mike Bouma, chair of the Alliance.

“I think the potential for us to export more food, nationally and worldwide is only going to grow.”

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A bill focused on ensuring local food is properly labeled was defeated  24 to 18 in the New Brunswick legislature in the spring.
It would have also meant nursing homes, schools and hospitals would have to serve a higher percentage of local food in their facilities.

Since then, minister of agriculture Rick Doucet says plenty of work is being done on a more extensive framework, that goes further than what the bill had. He says the plan should be unveiled in the coming months.

“This isn’t about advertising, it’s not about a PR campaign it’s, ‘how do we shift the culture to so that New Brunswickers will realize what we have on our doorstep,'” he said.

Farmers create a plan

Farmers came together Friday to create their own action plan. It will consist of 15 recommendations, addressing the most pressing issues facing the sector today.

The last time this happened was in 2008. Once finished, the recommendations be given to government.

“I have to say, this government seems to be very positive in regards to agriculture,” said Bouma.

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He says we have to produce about 70 per cent more food in the province before the world-wide population hits 10 billion.

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Doucet says all New Brunswickers need to realize the sector’s importance.

“Five per cent footprint of New Brunswick is farmland. And you look at the jobs its producing, really, objectively, what we want to do is change that culture and say, every time you drive by a farm, it’s not only realize the people that are employed there, this is a family business.”