In June of this year, the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) with the support of NDP candidate Gord Johns, who is running for re-election, submitted an online petition to the federal government asking for matching funds for the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program (FMNCP).
“The request is meant to encourage and support the formation and expansion of FMNCP’s across the country so that every Canadian has access to healthy local food and farmers are supported,” BCAFM president Vickey Brown explains.
Due to the election, all online petitions have been closed. So, the BCAFM has issued paper copies of the petition to all their farmers’ markets and to markets across the country. Brown is optimistic despite the delay.
“We’ll shift to paper copies while the election runs, and then restart online petitions once we have a new government in place. We are confident that the new government will be supportive of this beneficial program.”
Meanwhile, the BCAFM is working with farmers’ markets across the country to get paper petitions out. BCAFM is part of a new Canada-wide Farmers’ Market Coalition and the group is keen to work on this initiative.
“Farmers’ market leaders across the country are very excited about the potential matching funding,” says Brown. “Some provinces have similar programs running and would welcome matching funding, but most do not have a coupon program in place and this funding would help them create one.”
Each year in B.C., the FMNCP supports almost 16,000 vulnerable families, pregnant people, and seniors across the province with weekly farmers’ market coupons throughout the growing season.
The petition calls for the federal government to provide matching funds for all existing provincial Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Programs across Canada and encourages provinces that do not have such a program to implement one by offering matching funding.
The program is unique in that it benefits both the farmer and the customer, providing weekly coupons for purchase at any of the BCAFM Farmers Markets across the province and providing a secure and reliable source of customers to farmers, addressing food security on both sides of the consumer – producer equation.
For more information on the B.C. FMNCP check out the BC Farmers Market webpage.