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Because Grow for Life has an interest in helping provide food security for this province, Louis MacDonald says the food industry should be given similar support to what the cannabis industry has been given.
He said the company, of which he is one of the owners, is working with the provincial government as it progresses with its year-round operation and is introducing new growing technology to this province in the process.
MacDonald said Scott Reid, MHA for St. George’s-Humber, the district where their operation is located, has been on site and the company appreciates his efforts and would like continued financial support.
Gerry Byrne, minister of fisheries and land resources, said in making the comparison MacDonald should be aware that Canopy Growth, or any cannabis operation, is not getting any direct grants or loans.
That’s because there is an absolute prohibition on cannabis producers receiving agricultural grants.
He said what Canopy Growth is getting is tax concessions.
Byrne said Grow for Life recently received $345,375 in a direct taxpayer money grant for its tomato production, and in 2018 received $115,000 in government grants.
He said if MacDonald would like to get the same treatment as Canopy Growth, then his company is welcome to apply for the Economic Diversification and Growth Enterprises (EDGE) program through the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation for the provision of a tax holiday. The program provides incentives to encourage significant new business investment in the province.
Byrne said if Grow for Life is approved for the EDGE money and they’d like to return the grants they’ve already received, they’re welcome to do so. However, he doesn’t feel that would be wise.
“It’s not as lucrative as what he’s already got,” he said.
Byrne said when you look at those grants, it adds up to expensive tomatoes, but it’s something that in the long run will be well worth it.
“I still look forward to helping Grow for Life expand even further,” he said.
Currently Grow for Life has two greenhouses in production and another that will be coming into operation in the spring to supply tomatoes year-round.
Another five-bay greenhouse is under construction at the location and they will be going with a geothermal heating system, utilizing heat from the ground.
Through the expansion they plan to get into greenhouse import replacement product year-round, adding lettuce, green peppers and cucumber.
The company is also looking at secondary processing, so everything they grow will be utilized and sold.
“As we have the highest health cost per capita of the provinces in Canada (excluding the territories) we feel our initiative will help alleviate some of these costs by providing nutritious and fresh produce for the people of this province,” MacDonald said.
Note: Edited on Feb. 7, 2019 due to incorrect information regarding the EDGE program.