Quebec government announces $2.5 billion to support local food industry

The Quebec government is hoping to give a boost to the province’s food growers in both local and international markets and will invest $2.5 billion over five years to do so.

Premier Philippe Couillard announced the new program on Friday, saying the money put up by the provincial government will be matched by Ottawa.

The major components of the program are aimed at improving the supply of locally-grown products to Quebecers and introducing more environmentally responsible practices, as well as helping to grow Quebec’s presence in foreign food markets.

Roughly 500,000 people are employed in the province’s food sector.

The announcement was made at Quinn Farm, whose founder, Phil Quinn, said local family farms would go extinct without government aid.

The subject of government aid to food producers has been a sore subject at the ongoing NAFTA renegotiations, with Canada’s dairy industry drawing fire from President Donald Trump. Couillard assured farmers they would be supported despite the uncertainty.

“Any result that will keep markets open is good for Quebec. We have Europe now, we’ll have the Pacific zone as well and of course, the U.S. is our main partner,” said Couillard. “Supply management is not some kind of bureaucratic model, it’s a way of life in rural Quebec we want to protect and we insist it’s not a sacrificial lamb at the end of the debates that are going on right now leading, I hope, to a successful outcome.”

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