Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program

Application intake is closed

Program objective

The pilot program supports-cost-shared purchasing of commercial farm infrastructure and equipment needed to accelerate the revenue growth of farm businesses. Through the Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program, small and new farm businesses can make investments necessary to achieve farm income growth goals, ensure commercial viability and strengthen financial sustainability.

Application intake

Application intake is now closed. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries reserves the right to re-open the in-take as necessary.

A high number of applications are expected, and the funding requested is anticipated to exceed the funding available. Allocation of funding will be based on the potential of the project to grow their farm business as demonstrated by the business plan, growth plan and other supporting documentation.

Eligibility requirements: 

  • Commercial farm business operations whose primary purpose is the production and sale of agricultural products and is either:
    • A B.C. registered business entity (including sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations, cooperatives, Indigenous economic development corporations, and band-owned businesses), OR
    • Committed to registering as a business before the completion of the project in March of 2021.  
       
  • Primary agriculture producer growing or raising fresh food or agricultural products in British Columbia which are intended for sale. 
     
  • Reported total farm annual gross revenue of less than $60,000 in the previous two years (2018 and 2019 tax statements) to Canada Revenue Agency. This applies to any agricultural business owned by any of the business entity’s owners, members, or shareholders. 
     
  • All owners, members, and shareholders must be residents of British Columbia. 
     
  • Business either: 
    • Received a Statement of Completion or Implementation from the Environmental Farm Plan Program OR 
    • Commits to apply for and, to the extent possible, complete an Environmental Farm Plan within a year of completing the Small Farm Business Acceleration Program.  
       
  • Have not received cost-share funding from the Beneficial Management Practices Program (often referred to as the Environmental Farm Plan) or the On-Farm Food Safety Program in the last five (5) calendar years nor plan to apply for cost-shared funding with either of these programs in 2020/21.   

Applicants may be requested to provide documentation and references to demonstrate eligibility including, but not limited to, income statements provided by a certified professional account (CPA). If you are new to farming and have not filed a Farming Income and Expense Statements, the program may request the submission of interim statements.   

Commercial farm infrastructure and equipment:

All cost-share funding requests must include an up to date business plan and a growth plan as well as any supplier quotes associated with the request. These plans will undergo merit-based evaluation based only on the information submitted.

The program may provide cost-share funding for the purchase of equipment and/or construction or expansion of physical structures.  Program funding must be used exclusively to generate income from commercial agriculture production which includes income from sales of farm commodities including production insurance, crop and livestock sales, and value-added farm products; but does not include income from custom work, riding lessons, boarding horses, land and facilities rent, aquaculture, raising of pets, agri-tourism income, sales of forestry products and some agro-forestry products, government program payments, or any other non-commodity income.

Program funding is designed to cover 50% to 75% of total approved project costs to a maximum of $17,500. The remaining portion of the project costs must come from your business through cash or in-kind contributions. An in-kind contribution is defined as a non-cash contribution that is provided by the business in order to assist with the completion of the project such as staff time.

 

  • Project with costs up to $10,000 are supported at 75%
  • Project costs between $10,000 and $30,000 are supported at 50%

This means that for a project of $10,000 or less in value, you can request $7,500 in reimbursement funding. For a project of $30,000 or more in value, you can request $7,500 of funding for the first $10,000 of project costs and $10,000 of funding for the project costs between $10,000 and $30,000.

A full list of terms and conditions, including eligibility requirements, can be found in the Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program - Terms and Conditions (PDF, 539KB).

Program funds cannot be used for income growth of farm businesses through:  
 

  • Community gardens for individual consumption  
  • Equipment for providing custom work 
  • Riding lessons and/or boarding horses 
  • Land and facilities rent 
  • Aquaculture 
  • Raising of animals for pets and/or domestic households  
  • Agri-tourism initiatives
  • Forestry products  
  • Waste recovery 
  • Government program payments, or any other non-commodity income. 

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to: 

  • GST and/or interest payments; 
  • Costs incurred before the approval of the project or after the project completion date (as specified on the approval of your application); 
  • Training and education programs;
  • Normal and ongoing operating expenses, existing staff salaries and maintenance costs (e.g. phone, insurance, taxes, building and equipment repairs annual accounting fees, preparation of legal documents or agreements, etc.);
  • Consultant or advisor support;
  • Productive farm units (e.g., breeding stock, perennial plants, root stock, beehives, etc.);
  • Used equipment unless from a reputable used dealership; 
  • Purchase of land; 
  • Variable expenses for agriculture product (e.g., fertilizer, chemicals, livestock, seed, feed, fuel, etc.)
  • Perimeter fencing.  

Before the submission of your application, applicants must review the Program Terms and Conditions (PDF, 539KB)
 

  1. Applicants submit their application and accompanying documents to AgriBusiness@gov.bc.ca. Applications submitted before or after the intake period will NOT be accepted. Please ensure that all files and forms submitted include the business name and document type (i.e. Happy Valley Farms. Partial Budget.xls). Applications must include:
     
  2. Applications are reviewed by the Ministry of Agriculture and a panel of Farm Business Specialists.  
     
  3. If approved, applicants will receive an approval letter and Contribution Agreement which identifies the eligible project activities, financial contribution offered, and reporting requirements under which assistance is approved.  
     
  4. Applicants must review, sign and return the Contribution Agreement within 14 days of the date of the letter or funding will not be provided.  
     
  5. At completion of the project, applicant will submit the Project Reimbursement Form. All projects must be completed, and Project Reimbursement Forms submitted by March 31, 2021. Project Reimbursement Forms must be accompanied by all invoices for eligible project costs incurred and proof of payment of goods, receipts, in addition to proof of the applicant’s cost-share contribution (both cash and in-kind). 
     
  6. The application process is expected to be competitive and there is no guarantee that you will receive funding. No late or incomplete submissions will be accepted.
     

*Note: Business Plans should be submitted as either a PDF or .DOC file with your application, growth plan, project budget and partial budget, and any supporting documents.

For additional resources on the development of business and growth plans, please see below. Applicants should ensure that business and growth plans meet the evaluation criteria provided in the Program Terms and Conditions (PDF, 539KB). The resources below should not be considered exhaustive or representative of the components required for the evaluation process. Additional supports for business planning are available through programs available from the Ministry of Agriculture.  

Business Planning Development Resources and Templates 

If you need assistance to develop or update your business plan, you can apply for funding to work with a pre-Qualified Farm Business Consultant to help build a business plan or update your existing business plan. For individuals who have not yet developed a business plan for their farm business, or require assistance in developing or reviewing their business plan, additional supports are available through the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture including: 

Business Planning Coaching Programs 

Costs associated with the use of consultants to support the development and drafting of the applications for the Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program are an ineligible cost. For more information on qualified farm business consultants, please see the B.C. Agri-Business Planning Program or B.C. Indigenous Agriculture Development Program. Lists provided are not exhaustive nor are they an endorsement of any specific provider.  

 

Frequently asked questions 

I am looking for funding to start a farm. Can I apply for this program?

New farms that have started growing or raising fresh food or agricultural products in British Columbia which are intended for sale are eligible to apply, provided they meet the other eligibility requirements. New farms that have not yet started growing or raising fresh food or agricultural products in BC are not eligible for this pilot program. This program is not intended to fund new farm start-up costs.

Is there a minimum age to apply?

The minimum age to apply for the Small Farm Business Acceleration program is 19.

I am a new farm and don’t have two years of gross revenue yet; am I eligible to apply?

Yes, new farms are eligible to apply provided you are actively farming for commercial purposes at the time of the application. There is no minimum gross revenue required to apply.

If my income is generated on reserve and I don’t file taxes, am I eligible for funding?

Yes, you are still eligible for funding provided that your farm annual gross revenue is less than $60,000 in the previous two years (2018 and 2019). If required, you must be able to provide proof of farm annual gross revenue over this period. This may be in the form of a statement from a chartered accountant. 

I have just bought land but have not yet started farming. Am I eligible?

Eligible applicants include primary agriculture producers growing or raising fresh food or agricultural products in British Columbia which are intended for sale. Applicants must be actively farming for commercial purposes at the time of the application.

Are non-profits / charities eligible to apply for Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program?

The purpose of the Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program is to grow the commercial viability of farm businesses across the province. Eligible entities include commercial farm businesses whose primary purpose is the production and sale of primary agriculture products. Social purpose organizations and/or social enterprises must be able to demonstrate that their primary purpose of the organization is the production and sale of farm products, have a viable and sustainable business plan, and must be able to demonstrate how the operation works on a profit basis rather than cost-recovery. Eligible entities must have reported a total farm annual gross revenue of less than $60,000 in the previous two years – including any entity owners, members, or shareholders.

Co-ops, and associations that meet the eligibility criteria can apply for funding.

What if my business isn’t currently registered? Can I still apply?

Applicants whose businesses are not currently registered must committed to registering as a business before the completion of the project in March of 2021. Visit Register Your Business, for more information on registering a business in BC.

How do I apply?

  • Determine your eligibility by reviewing the Program Terms and Conditions.
  • Review your business plan to ensure it is up to date and reflects the goals of your farm business.
  • If you don’t have a business plan and need support developing one, review the resources section of the webpage.
  • Develop your full application package. Make sure you include the following forms:
    • Small Farm Business Acceleration Program application form
    • Growth plan
    • Partial Budget for Growth Plan (separate form provided)
  • Your application must also include:
    • A recent Business Plan for your farm business
    • Supplier quotations and relevant material for your project plan (aerial maps, diagrams, etc.)
  • Submit your application package to AgriBusiness@gov.bc.ca between December 7th and December 15th, 2020.

What is the maximum amount of funding available?

Eligible program expenses from approved applications will be reimbursed on a cost-share basis. For projects up to $10,000 the applicant is responsible for 25% of eligible project costs. The portion of eligible project expenses between $10,000 and $30,000 will be cost-shared on a 50% basis. The maximum amount available for reimbursement is $17,500.

What in-kind contributions are eligible for the farmers cost-shared portion?

An in-kind contribution is defined as a non-cash contribution that is provided by the farm business in order to assist with the completion of the project. An example of an in-kind contribution is staff time for the installation of equipment or infrastructure. Reasonable hours of labour invested by the applicant, his/her dependents and business partner(s) may be claimed. All contributions (both cash and in-kind) must be directly related to the proposed project and requested support for funds.

The maximum allowable in-kind labour and equipment rates are:

  • Labour: $20/hour
  • Machinery:
    • Small Equipment & Operator labour - $60/hr (does not include hand tools or motorized tools less than 25HP)
      • Farm Tractor and Implements - up to 80hp (e.g., skid steer)
  • Medium Equipment & Operator labour - $90/hr
    • Farm Tractor and Implements - 80 to 120hp (e.g., tandem axle dump truck)
  • Large Equipment & Operator labour - $140/hr
    • Farm Tractor and Implements - greater than 120hp (e.g., excavator, loader backhoe or land scraper)

All proposed use of in-kind labour and equipment must be identified on the application. Please review the program terms and conditions for more details on in-kind contributions.

Can my project include more than one equipment and infrastructure item?

Projects can include more than one equipment or infrastructure item up to the total amount of funding available (the maximum available for cost-share reimbursement is $17,500) so long as they meet a common purpose to grow your business. Your application will undergo a merit-based evaluation. You must clearly demonstrate in your Growth Plan how your business’ growth goals would be advanced through cost-share commercial farm infrastructure and/or equipment funding support.  The Ministry reserves the right to limit the number of items funded per application.

For example, in order to grow the Smith’s vegetable production farm, they require Canada GAP certification. To meet the standards of Canada GAP, the Smith’s must invest in the following infrastructure:

  • Cold Storage
  • Wash Basin
  • Potable water, etc.

What is a Partial Budget and how do I fill it out?

Partial budgets help estimate the net change in income of a business as a result of your project. A partial budget helps you to evaluate decisions on your farm.

Partial budgeting is based on the principle that a small change in your farm business operation will have one or more effects on your net income.

  • A change may eliminate or reduce some costs.
  • A change may eliminate or reduce some income
  • A change may cause some additional costs to be incurred
  • A change may add income

The net effect is the sum of the positive economic effects minus the negative economic effects.

Is the funding first come, first served?

Applications will be received during the intake period from December 7 to December 15, 2020. Applications will be evaluated on the criteria outlined in the eligibility requirements of the Program Terms and Conditions. The funding will be based on a competitive process.

How do you decide who gets the funding if there’s a limited amount?

Your application will undergo a merit-based evaluation. You must clearly demonstrate in both your Business Plan and the Growth Plan how your business’ growth goals would be advanced through cost-share commercial farm infrastructure and/or equipment funding support.

What if I have already started my project? Will you reimburse expenses made before the application date?

Costs that are incurred before the approval of the project or after the project completion date (as specified in the approval of your application) are not eligible for reimbursement. Eligible project expenses can only be incurred AFTER December 7th, 2020. Applicants who incur expenses after Dec. 7th but before receiving an approval letter do so at their own risk. There is no guarantee of reimbursement for expenses incurred in that time frame.

What kinds of projects will the program NOT fund?

  • Community gardens for individual consumption 
  • Equipment for providing custom work
  • Riding lessons and/or boarding horses
  • Land and facilities rent
  • Aquaculture
  • Raising of animals for pets and/or domestic households 
  • Agri-tourism initiatives 
  • Forestry products 
  • Waste recovery
  • Government program payments, or any other non-commodity income.

What costs associated with my project are ineligible for reimbursement?

  • GST and/or interest payments;
  • Costs incurred before the approval of the project or after the project completion date (as specified on the approval of your application);
  • Normal and ongoing operating expenses, existing staff salaries and maintenance costs (e.g. phone, insurance, taxes, building and equipment repairs annual accounting fees, preparation of legal documents or agreements, etc.);
  • Consultant or advisor support;
  • Productive farm units (e.g., breeding stock, perennial plants, root stock, beehives, etc.);
  • Used equipment unless from a reputable used dealership;
  • Purchase of land;
  • Variable expenses for agriculture product (e.g., fertilizer, chemicals, livestock, seed, feed, fuel, etc.)
  • Perimeter fencing.

Can I buy used equipment?

Used equipment is an eligible expense but it must be from a recognized and reputable farm equipment dealer that indicates the equipment has been reconditioned and is in good working order.

Are irrigation systems eligible expenses?

Small-scale irrigation systems are eligible for cost-share funding. Applicants are encouraged to select the most efficient systems available. Systems that rely on surface or groundwater sources must have:

  • Proof of irrigation water license with sufficient capacity to irrigate the intended land.
  • Irrigation plans by a Certified Irrigation Designer are highly recommended. Irrigation BC maintains a list of Certified Irrigation Designers.  

Will the program pay for fencing?

Perimeter fencing is not eligible for the program though electric, stackyard and cross-fencing are eligible. The maximum amount of eligible costs for materials, labour and equipment for fencing is $15.00 (ex. at 75% cost share = $12.00 from the program) per meter. This is regardless of whether the fence is installed by the applicant or by a fencing contractor. 

Can I include food processing equipment in my project?

The Small Farm Business Acceleration program’s goal is to support the growth of small and/or new farms and the implementation of farm business plans and growth strategies. Eligibility requirements specifically target primary agriculture producers growing or raising fresh food or agricultural products in British Columbia which are intended for sale. Some value-added activities that require equipment for the packing  of primary agriculture products, food safety equipment such as wash stations, and infrastructure to extend the growing season (e.g. poly tunnels) are examples of eligible activities.

Visit the Agriculture and seafood programs page for a full list of other programs that support B.C. farm, seafood and food processing sectors.

Can my project include more than one equipment and infrastructure item?

Projects can include more than one equipment or infrastructure item up to the total amount of funding available (the maximum available for cost-share reimbursement is $17,500) so long as they meet a common purpose to grow your business. Your application will undergo a merit-based evaluation. You must clearly demonstrate in your Growth Plan how your business’ growth goals would be advanced through cost-share commercial farm infrastructure and/or equipment funding support.  The Ministry reserves the right to limit the number of items funded per application.

For example, in order to grow the Smith’s vegetable production farm, they require Canada GAP certification. To meet the standards of Canada GAP, the Smith’s must invest in the following infrastructure:

  • Cold Storage
  • Wash Basin
  • Potable water, etc.

Is there support to help me develop or update my business plan?

Yes, you can apply for funding to work with a pre-Qualified Farm Business Consultant to help build a business plan or update your existing business plan. For individuals who have not yet developed a business plan for their farm business, or require assistance in developing or reviewing their business plan, additional supports are available through the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture including:

Applicants may use farm business consultants for support in the development of applications, however, any costs associated will not be covered by the Small Farm Business Acceleration Pilot Program. For more information on pre-qualified farm business consultants, please see the B.C. Agri-Business Planning Program or B.C. Indigenous Agriculture Development Program. Lists provided are not exhaustive nor are they an endorsement of any specific provider.