New Entrant Farm Business Accelerator Program

The next program intake will open fall 2024.

Program objective

The New Entrant Farm Business Accelerator (NEFBA) Program supports the growth of new entrants by providing financial support for the development and implementation of farm business plans and growth strategies. For the purposes of this program, New Entrant is defined as an agricultural producer who has not reported farm income for more than 5 years. The Program supports business planning and cost-shared purchasing of commercial farm infrastructure and equipment  needed to accelerate the revenue growth of farm businesses.

Through the NEFBA Program, a new farm business can receive support to develop a growth strategy and to make investments necessary to achieve farm income growth goals, ensure commercial viability and strengthen financial sustainability.

Phase 1 timeline

Phase 2 timeline

The Program consists of two Phases, Phase 1 funding for support to update an existing business plan or develop a new business plan will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis to qualified applicants until funding has been fully allocated. Phase 2 involves a competitive application process and will only be available to successful applicants from Phase 1 who are invited to apply for Phase 2 cost-share funding support for infrastructure.  Phase 1 prepares and supports applicant readiness for Phase 2.  Note that participating in Phase 1 prepares applicants for success in the Phase 2 application process, however, does NOT guarantee funding through Phase 2.

 

Eligibility requirements

  • Be a Primary agriculture producer growing or raising primary agricultural products in British Columbia which are intended for sale.
  • Not reported farm income for more than 5 years.
  • Be a commercial farm business operation whose primary purpose is the production and sale of agricultural products and is either:
    1. A sole proprietorship;
    2. A B.C. registered business entity (partnerships, corporations, cooperatives, Indigenous economic development corporations, and band-owned businesses).

      OR
       

    3. An unregistered business entity listed in (b) above, committed to registering as a business before the completion of the project in March of 2024.
  • All owners, members, and shareholders must be residents of British Columbia and file income tax under the Income Tax Act in British Columbia.
  • Have not received cost-share funding from the Beneficial Management Practices Program or the On-Farm Food Safety Program after April 1, 2023.
  • Have not received funding for the same activities from the Indigenous Food System Partnership Program or the Indigenous Food Security and Sovereignty Fund.    

 

Phase 1: Business planning and growth strategy development

APPLICATION

Applications are now closed. The next program intake will open fall 2024.

Your application package for Phase 1 must include the following document:

  1. New Entrant Farm Business Accelerator Program Application

Applicants who are approved for Phase 1 will receive support to update their business plan and complete a growth strategy template provided by the NEFBA that demonstrates how their business would grow with cost-share funding support for infrastructure. Successful applicants will be notified by early December and will then have until March 1, 2024, to submit their business plan and growth strategy for reimbursement.

Approved applicants are eligible to receive $1,250 for a self-developed business plan under Stream 1 or up to $3,000 through Stream 2 for support from a consultant for business plan coaching or services.  Applicants select a Stream when they apply to Phase 1. Learning outcomes through this approach will help the program applicant to:

  • Better understand how to prepare core components of a business plan
  • Be better equipped to develop a solid relationship with their lender and/or potential investor(s)
  • Be able to present their plan to their financial institutions and key business individuals, to improve access to funding and support

 

Phase 2: Cost-share funding for infrastructure

APPLICATION

An invitation to apply for Phase 2, if any, will be offered after Phase 1 has been completed and the Phase 1 participant is deemed eligible, based on the Growth Plan Evaluation, described further below.

Your application package for Phase 2 must include the following documents:

  1. Partial Budget to describe how the investment will support the overall financial growth of the operation
  2. Supplier quotes associated with the requested infrastructure and/or equipment investments and any associated information (aerial designs, diagrams, etc.)

Your submission will undergo a merit-based evaluation and applicants will be notified in April 2024, as to whether their application for cost-share funding for Infrastructure was approved. For more information on how your application will be evaluated, please see below.   

Only those who submit an application during the initial Phase 1 application intake (October 31st  , 2023 to November 30th, 2023) and are admitted to the program will be invited to apply for Phase 2 cost-share funding for commercial farm Infrastructure.

For approved Phase 2 projects that are equal to or are less than $10,000, program funding will reimburse 75% of your total project costs, with the remaining 25% coming from your business through cash or in-kind contributions. This means that for a project with a total cost of $10,000, you can request $7,500 from the program and the remaining $2,500 must come from your business through cash or in-kind contributions.

For approved Phase 2 projects that are greater than $10,000, program funding will reimburse 50% of total approved project costs, with the remaining 50% coming from your business through cash or in-kind contributions. This means that for a project of $30,000 in value, you can request $15,000 from the program and the remaining $15,000 must come from your business through cash or in-kind contributions.

Defined as a non-cash contribution that is provided by your business in order to assist with the completion of the Phase 2 project. An example of an in-kind contribution is staff time for the installation of infrastructure. Cash and in-kind contributions will be required to show evidence of funding sources.

Applicants must provide evidence of both cash and any in-kind contributions at the completion of the project. Applicants must provide additional supporting documentation on budgets, designs, diagrams, etc. related to the Infrastructure on request, depending on the type of eligible expenses applied for. For applications for Infrastructure related to livestock handling systems and permanent field fencing, you must submit designs that show layout and measurements, including any existing structures related to the project.

Program funds from Phase 2 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; or
  • Secondary food processing (e.g., preserving, canning, juicing, baking, etc.)

For both Phase 1 and Phase 2, ineligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • GST;
  • Interest payments on loans;
  • 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 courses;
  • 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.);
  • Productive farm units (e.g., breeding stock, perennial plants, root stock, beehives, etc.);
  • Used equipment unless from a reputable used dealership;
  • Purchase of land;
  • Sale of equipment;
  • Perimeter fencing;
  • Personal Protective Equipment; and
  • Variable expenses for agriculture product (e.g., fertilizer, chemicals, livestock, seed, feed, fuel, etc.)

Determination of eligible and ineligible expenses is at the discretion of the Province.

 

Application process and forms

To apply for the New Entrant Farm Business Accelerator Program, complete and submit the Program Application here.

Late applications will not be accepted. Project expenses will only be eligible if incurred within the program activity period stated in the below table.

 

Approval Process – phase 1 and phase 2

  1. Applicants must complete and submit an application form. 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 Growth Strategy). 
  2. Phase 1 applications are reviewed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Phase 2 applications are reviewed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food and a panel of Farm Business Specialists. If approved, applicants will receive a Contribution Agreement in each phase which identifies the eligible project activities, financial contribution offered, and reporting requirements under which assistance is approved.
  3. Applicants must review, sign and return the Contribution Agreement within 14 days of the date of the letter or funding will not be provided. 
  4. At completion of each Phase, applicant will submit the Project Reimbursement Form. All projects must be completed, and Project Reimbursement Forms submitted by March 1, 2024/25. Project Reimbursement Forms must be accompanied by all invoices for eligible project costs incurred and paid for by the applicant in addition to proof of cost-share contribution (both cash and in-kind).

Note: The application process is expected to be competitive and there is no guarantee that you will receive funding.

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, 1.9 MB). 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 from the ministry.  

Business Planning Development Resources and Templates:

 

Frequently asked questions

 

How will you evaluate my application?

Applications will be received during the intake period from October 31st, 2023 to November 30th, 2023, or until funding is fully allocated. Applications will be evaluated on the criteria outlined in the eligibility requirements of the Program Terms and Conditions. 

 

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

You must clearly demonstrate in your application how you meet the eligibility requirements and plan to complete a business plan and growth strategy in Phase 1 to prepare for Phase 2. Please refer to the Program Guide to see how your application will be evaluated for Phase 1 and Phase 2 funding.

 

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 the date of your project approval.

 

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