Registration for the Retribution des pratiques agro-environnementales (RPA) program, which compensates producers for agri-environmental practices that go beyond regulatory requirements, will open on March 6. When the measure was introduced last year, the program proved so popular that 1,850 businesses signed up in less than 24 hours. The new enrollment period is expected to allow close to 1000 new producers access to the $85-million provincially funded program.
To participate, farmers looking to transition to more sustainable practices commit to a three-year cycle, where a maximum financial assistance of $50,000 is paid according to a calculation based on the different practices implemented and total harvestable acreage. Some of the eligible practices involve crop diversification, off-season soil protection and cover crops, reduced herbicide use, the use of non-insecticide-treated seeds, and biodiversity-friendly management.
According to the Minister of Agriculture, André Lamontagne, at least 96 per cent of the farms participating in the first cohort used more sustainable practices. Herbicide reduction practices were adopted by 41 per cent of the businesses, while the use of non-treated seeds was implemented by 25 per cent, and biodiversity-friendly practices were adopted by 58 per cent of those involved. In total, the program saw improved agri-environment practices implemented on around 400,000 hectares of land, mainly on cash crop and dairy farms, throughout the province.
This year, financial assistance will also be provided through the program for farmers who complete eligible training under the province’s Sustainable Agriculture Plan.
Producers already registered with the Financière Agricole du Québec (FADQ) can apply for the program directly through their online file with the organization. Help with the online registration process is available for those without a file with the FADQ through the service center in Chateauguay, which can be reached at 450-691-1346. The registration period runs from March 6 to the 31, or until the available funds are exhausted.