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Hay River resident applies for lease for new agriculture venture

Hay River council is weighing up a land application that would see a new agricultural project start up in town.

The town received an application from Marc Benoit, a local farmer, to sublease nearly 150 acres of Commissioners land — land that is managed by the GNWT.

The strip is located along Mackenzie Highway 2, between Market Gardens and the Northern Farm Training Institute. 

The land would be developed with forage crops, like hay, afalfa and clover which could boost the growing potential of the land so eventually barley and oats could be grown. That could then be processed into feed for pigs and cows.

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A diagram of the land plot. (Supplied by Town of Hay River.)

Benoit runs Benoit Farms and has been managing livestock at Paradise Farms for the past five years.

His dad and grandfather were both ranchers, near Fort Providence and in New Brunswick respectively, the document adds.

In its 2014 Agriculture Strategy, the Town of Hay River said they were seeking to “develop a sustainable, economically-viable agriculture industry.”

Three Hay River farming operations recently received $400,000 in federal funding to boost agriculture business in the community.

Kevin Wallington, chairman of NWT Agrifood Association and owner of Hay River-based Polar Egg said the funding will help, but it will take collaboration from businesses and the government to properly establish the agriculture industry in the NWT.

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“There’s a lot of food related programs that aren’t necessarily utilized in the Northwest Territories, because we don’t have a commercial sector like you would in other parts of the country,” he said. “So we have to have agreements in terms of being able to access, who’s delivering those programs.”

If councillors vote to go ahead, the town will have to send an application to the GNWT to lease the land to Benoit.

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