The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of a reliable food supply and has increased the demand for locally grown products.
To help Columbia Basin food producers meet this call, Columbia Basin Trust (Trust) is introducing two new programs: one that provides loans for operational and equipment needs and one that provides wage subsidies to hire workers.
“In response to the increase in demand caused by the pandemic, Basin farmers are gearing up to expand production,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Trust president and CEO.
“In speaking with these producers we heard there are gaps in current COVID-related supports, and because agricultural production is a priority for the Trust, we’re stepping in to offer these new programs,” he explained.
“This will help bolster the region’s food supply, create employment and alleviate longer-term economic impacts in the Basin.”
Primary food producers—those that grow grains, vegetables, fruit, forage or raise livestock—can now access the Basin Food Producer Loans.
This program provides loans for working capital and equipment.
Primary food producers can also access the Basin Food Producer Wage Subsidy, administered by College of the Rockies.
Now, producers that are bumping up production due to the pandemic can get financial aid to hire workers throughout the growing and harvesting season.
Program guidelines for food producers requiring a loan will be available on May 1 and applications will be available May 6.
Applications and guidelines for food producers requiring a wage subsidy to hire necessary employees will be available on May 1 and applications open on May 11.
Wage subsidies are granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
As well, the Trust has increased assistance through several existing programs: Small Business Working Capital Loans, Impact Investment Fund, Basin RevUP, Summer Works, School Works, Career Internship Program, Basin Business Advisors and Training Fee Support.
For 25 years, Columbia Basin Trust has been supporting ideas and efforts. To learn more about the Trust’s resources and support during COVID-19, visit ourtrust.org/covid19 or call 1.800.505.8998.