FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries will invest $1.5 million to improve food self-sufficiency in the province.

Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson made the announcement today while tabling the department’s budgetary estimates for 2021-22.

“The situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted gaps and threats within the food supply chain, which could have an impact on food security in New Brunswick,” said Johnson. “This additional investment will help us work with stakeholders to take advantage of opportunities to increase self-sufficiency in some food products.”

Work to date has included evaluating the threats, risks and vulnerabilities to the current food value chain that New Brunswick consumers rely on and exploring the best options to address the risks identified. The department has implemented a series of key initiatives that will contribute to strengthening New Brunswick’s food system and improving food self-sufficiency that will focus on fruit and vegetable production, controlled environment farming and indoor farming, expansion of abattoir capacity, distribution and food processing.

An additional $660,000 will also be invested to support changes to the AgriStability program that helps farmers manage risk to their income by providing financial assistance when their farm business experiences a large margin decline.

The federal, provincial and territorial governments recently agreed to remove the reference margin limit for AgriStability, which is one of the business risk management programs under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. Costs are shared 60 per cent by the federal government and 40 per cent by provincial and territorial governments.