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College of the North Atlantic president Bruce Hollett during the announcement of a new agriculture technician (co-op) program to be offered at the college's Corner Brook campus, at the Corner Brook Civic Centre Studio on Wednesday.
College of the North Atlantic president Bruce Hollett during the announcement of a new agriculture technician (co-op) program to be offered at the college's Corner Brook campus, at the Corner Brook Civic Centre Studio on Wednesday. - Diane Crocker

The College of the North Atlantic in Corner Brook is about to undertake the offering of a new program that will fill a gap in training in the agriculture sector.

The agriculture technician (co-op) program, a first for the province, was announced by Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne at the “Our Food. Our Future” Agriculture Symposium at the Corner Brook Civic Centre Studio on Wednesday morning.

Byrne said the program is another way of developing the industry.

Highlights of the announcement include that:

• The program will begin in 2019;

• It will be open to 16 candidates in the first year of the two-year program;

• It will be an accredited, co-operative, diploma program;

• It will be open to existing farmers and new entrants;

• It will include instruction on: basic plumbing and wiring skills; basic technology of farm tools and equipment; soil science; climatology; and business skills, including marketing, finance, accounting and bookkeeping.

The college will hire two new instructors, plus instructional assistants.

The startup cost of the program is $2.7 million; $1.4 million will be spent over two years through the federal Labour Market Development Agreement, which is administered by the provincial government and the department of advanced education, skills and labour (AESL)

“I see this as foundational for our success at doubling food production, doubling employment in Newfoundland and Labrador in our agrifood sector,” Byrne said.

“Before today the agriculture industry was one of the major industries in the province that did not have a specialized training program.

College of the North Atlantic president Bruce Hollett said, “We’re confident that CNA’s new agriculture technician (co-op) program will develop the skills and knowledge to help move the agriculture sector forward.”

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