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Bibeau opens discussion with women entrepreneurs in Canadian ag


September 22, 2020
By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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Yesterday, Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, held a virtual roundtable discussion with women entrepreneurs from across Canada’s agricultural food chain, focusing on the opportunities and challenges that exist for them in the agriculture and agri-food sector.

During the roundtable, Bibeau announced that Farm Credit Canada’s Women Entrepreneur Program has already helped 1,391 women with loans under this program, totalling more than $994.5 million. This is already nearly double the $500-million amount initially announced in March of 2019 for this three-year program, demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit of hundreds of women in Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector.

This program is part of the federal Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $5-billion investment. In agriculture, there are over 75,000 female farm operators, representing some 28.7 per cent of all farm operators in Canada – a number which continues to modestly increase. The Women Entrepreneurship Program is expected to increase this proportion.

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“Women play a vital role in growing the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector,” Bibeau said. “Over the past several decades, the proportion of female farm operators has continued to increase. While this progress is positive, women remain underrepresented in the sector and continue to face significant barriers.

“That is why the Government is taking steps to promote and empower women entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector through various initiatives, and through conversations like those held during today’s roundtable to better understand and help address the obstacles they face.” Bibeau added, “I am confident that together we can build on the progress made and strengthen and diversify our entire agricultural sector.”

During the roundtable, Bibeau, in her capacity as the first-ever female minister of agriculture and agri-food, highlighted her personal commitment towards greater inclusion of women in the agriculture and agri-food sector. She stressed the need to overcome barriers to equality that research shows include: work-life balance, skills training, networking and mentorship, access to information management, and financial barriers.