MRC asks Québec for special status and $2 million to aid local agriculture

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Allyson Beauregard


Allyson Beauregard

MRC PONTIAC – During the Council of Mayors meeting on May 16, the mayors resolved to ask the province to award the MRC Pontiac special status for agriculture, which will solidify their request for $2 million from the Funding Program for Agriculture. The funding will be used to implement thirteen proposals developed by two committees brought together by Warden Jane Toller: The Pontiac County Agricultural Advisory Committee and the PDZA Committee.
After receiving more than 3,200 applications in five months for the $95 million in funding allocated by Québec City for agriculture last year, an additional $100 million over five years was added to the envelope in late March this year. Quebec agricultural entrepreneurs will now have access to a $195 million fund over six years to support their investments.
Roger St-Cyr, a local agronomist, is one of the major drivers behind the special status project. In the document sent to Quebec, St-Cyr noted that in the early 2000s, select rural communities in Quebec were granted management of a program to support farmers and agriculture. Pontiac received about $2 million, which
funded 50 projects showing economic outcomes assessed at four times the initial investment. According to St-Cyr, it was one of the best programs Pontiac ever received for agriculture. Implementing a new program, funded by the province but managed by the MRC, is one of the committee’s thirteen proposals.
Other proposals include creating a better program for drainage and liming where 50% is covered by MAPAQ, 25% by the MRC funding program, and 25% by the farmer; implementing farming internships; reinvesting in the CUMA to promote the cooperative use of agriculture equipment; implementing a model farm (agricultural innovative lab) in the Pontiac; hiring an agricultural commissioner; developing a plan for watercourse management and drainage among all partners; promoting field farming to prevent weed contamination from nearby unfarmed fields; adding a Financière agricole du Québec office or representative in the Pontiac; encouraging the CPTAQ to become more flexible when analyzing files and issuing decisions regarding the Pontiac; and ensuring all agriculture programs are flexible to adapt to each farm’s business reality. 
According to Toller, the special status is greatly warranted given that agriculture
represents 31% of the jobs in the area.
A response is expected in the coming months.