Farmers’ grants stopped in May, programme under review

Parliament’s Finance Committee has approved $500,000 extra funding to pay retroactively for a farmers’ grant programme that was discontinued in May.

Up to 1,500 farmers received about $400 each month under that programme. It was initially slated to end in February but then extended until May.

Under the new government, the continuation of the funding is currently under review to introduce some “checks and balances” and “ensure money is spent in the right way”, Agriculture Minister Jay Ebanks said on Monday.

Former agriculture minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly explained in Finance Committee that the scheme was intended to both support commercial farmers who were facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic and to encourage backyard farming.

She said the new agriculture minister has been given the opportunity to assess the programme but it is not the intention of the government to stop it entirely.

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The ministry will assess the administration of the grant scheme and how best to assist commercial and backyard farmers.

Ebanks said once the review was finalised, he would seek additional resources for the programme, if necessary.

The agriculture minister also confirmed that the government is looking to purchase more land to increase the level of farming.

Finance Committee also approved an additional $1.7 million for agricultural supplies.

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