The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has stepped in to help food producers in the region meet the growing demand for locally grown food amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
CBT said the virus has highlighted the importance of having a reliable source of food, and it has launched a pair of new programs that will provide loans for equipment and operational expenses and another which will provide staff wages.
“In response to the increase in demand caused by the pandemic, Basin farmers are gearing up to expand production,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin 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. This will help bolster the region’s food supply, create employment and alleviate longer-term economic impacts in the Basin.”
The Basin Food Producer Loan is now available to primary food producers, meaning those that grow vegetables, grains, fruit, forage or raise livestock. CBT said the program’s guidelines will be made available through its website on May 1st, with applications opening on May 8th.
Financial aid will also be made available to those that are ramping up food production to hire additional employees through the Basin Food Producer Wage Subsidy administered through the College of the Rockies. Applications for the subsidy will open online on May 11th.