Farmers may now have more reason to employ young agricultural interns. The Government of Canada is investing $5.2 million over two years into the Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative to encourage young workers in the industry, according to an Apr. 25 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) release.
The initiative enables producers, agri-businesses and environmental groups to hire eligible young workers, for less than a year, to work on projects that benefits the environment. The government will reimburse up to 60 per cent of the worker’s salary, depending on the type of internship.
There are two divisions that make up the initiative – the Green Farms Stream for farm employers and the Green Internships Stream for non-farm employers.
In the Green Farms Stream, producers can submit a variety of eligible projects as long as they can be deemed “a beneficial management practice.” Such practices improve the long-term health of farmland and make the farm operation more economical and environmentally friendly.
In this stream, projects could include tile drainage, cleaning up waterways or building a bridge for cattle to travel over water.
For the both streams, employers are responsible for finding eligible interns and submitting their applications. Eligible Green Farms Stream participants could receive 50 per cent of workers’ salary, up to a total of $10,000. Eligible Green Internships Stream participants could receive 50 per cent of workers’ salaries, up to a total of $16,000. Non-profit companies could receive reimbursement for up to 80 per cent of workers’ salaries. These cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, according to the AAFC website.
The program was first launched last year. AAFC extended the program until 2019, partly based on the success of 2016, says Caroline St-Pierre, regional manager of Business Development & Competitiveness at AAFC.
“The government wanted to help create employment and the chance (for young workers) to get hands-on experience (in the industry),” she says. “Last year was quite successful – (the AAFC) saw 147 different projects Canada-wide.”
The AAFC surveyed participants in 2016’s initiative. Most respondents found the experience very positive and said it influenced their decision to continue work and studies in the agricultural industry.
“This (initiative provides opportunity) for producers and agri-businesses who may not have had the time or money to work on (farm enhancement) projects themselves,” says St-Pierre. “By bringing in an intern (with half of their salary eligible for reimbursement), producers can give work and experience to someone while making their farm more productive and environmentally friendly.”
Employers can submit applications as of April 26. AAFC has already received a handful of applications, according to St-Pierre. Applications will be accepted until the funding runs out.
For a full list of worker and project requirements, visit the Agricultural Youth Green Jobs Initiative webpage.