FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries has released a new Local Food and Beverages Strategy 2021-2025.

The four-year action plan aims to benefit the agriculture, agri-food and seafood sectors across the province and has three core pillars: Grow NB, Buy NB and Feed NB. Performance measures are in place for each pillar with the goal of educating and raising awareness within the sectors and the public.

“More than ever, New Brunswickers want to know where their food comes from and how it is processed,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “The continued strengthening of our food system and improving food self-sufficiency is central to the development, growth and sustainability of the local food and beverage sectors.”

The strategy was created in collaboration with representatives from Indigenous communities, industry stakeholders, and provincial and federal government agencies. It was developed based upon input from three working groups: Industry Development, Food Security and First Nations. Actions identified through this process are either included in the action plan for year one or will be considered by the working group for future years.

"Food security challenges in Indigenous communities in New Brunswick are real – especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Eel Ground First Nation Chief George Ginnish. “I am encouraged by the collaborative efforts to create a strategy with specific goals reflective of Indigenous values. This multi-year strategy is a step in the right direction towards creating more opportunities for First Nations in the agriculture and agri-food sector. We are happy with this progress and see great potential and opportunities to extend this type of collaboration to other resource sectors, such as seafood. I look forward to working together to improve on our food security. We still have a long way to go.”

Anna Belliveau, CEO of the Agricultural Alliance of New Brunswick, and Suzanne Fournier, executive director of the National Farmers Union-NB, expressed support for the strategy. Representatives from their organizations participated in the Industry Development working group. Both leaders said they look forward to the programs and to the support it will offer producers and businesses, which will also benefit consumers.

The province’s agriculture and seafood industries deliver more than 50 commodities to local and export markets. They also employ more than 17,000 people in primary production and processing and are a significant contributor to Indigenous, rural and coastal communities and their economies.