KESWICK RIDGE (GNB) – Stimulating economic growth in rural New Brunswick through agricultural opportunities will be an important component of the provincial government’s Economic Growth Plan.

“Agriculture is a vital and historic part of our rural economy, creating 11,000 full-time equivalent jobs,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet. “We must continue to invest in and develop this important industry.”

Doucet made the comments while visiting Coburn Farms, a seventh-generation family farm in Keswick Ridge, to promote Open Farm Day, to be held on Sunday, Sept. 18. Open Farm Day is an initiative of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick with support from the department.

“Partnerships like the one our department enjoys with the Agricultural Alliance are vital to industry growth,” said Doucet. “We welcome the opportunity to work with our partners on exciting new initiatives as part of the New Brunswick Economic Growth Plan.”

The plan, released last week, outlines a framework for advancing the provincial economy. The plan calls for agricultural programs to be developed and implemented to improve economic conditions in rural and coastal areas.

“The plan identified a series of key opportunities for economic growth, several of them directly related to agriculture,” said Doucet. “Our government recognizes the potential for growth in this sector and is developing initiatives to take full advantage of that potential.”

The diverse mix of growth opportunities include:

  • blueberries;
  • new farmers;
  • local food and beverage.

“To ensure the rural economy grows, it will be imperative that we have the right components in place to support those who want to take advantage of these opportunities,” said Doucet.

The Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries is working with industry on initiatives to create opportunities in those areas, including the wild blueberry strategy, the road map for new farmers and a local food and beverage strategy.