Blood Tribe's forage business locks up $15 million in financing to grow exports

Kainai Forage — the forage export business owned by the Blood Tribe in Alberta and Indigena Capital — has announced it has secured a $15 million long-term finance facility with Farm Credit Canada, and an operating line of credit with Bank of Montreal.

The company says proceeds from the credit facilities will expand Kainai Forage’s storage and processing capacity, while enabling the continued growth of longer-term arrangements with forage producers in Alberta and international end-users.

Kainai Forage was formed by the Blood Tribe and Indigenous investment firm Indigena Capital in April of 2019. The company says it has more than doubled its production of export-grade timothy hay since then, anticipating more than 50,000 tonnes of production during the 2020 growing season.

This growth has created jobs on the Blood Tribe Reserve, a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy and a Treaty 7 Nation located approximately 200 kilometres south of Calgary, Alta.

“The Kainai Blood Tribe have always existed on our lands. We were the first successful agriculturalists when the buffalo left, until the imposition of several barriers,” says Chief Roy Fox of the Blood Tribe. “Since the construction of the St. Mary’s Dam in the 1950s, and the Blood Tribe Agriculture Project in the 1980s we have been active, working to restore our place in the agricultural value chain. The Blood Tribe has developed an enviable irrigation project with the infrastructure to support 25,000 acres and beyond.”

Fox says they’re aiming to build Kainai into a 100,000 tonne per year forage producer, and that Kainai is “central to the Blood Tribe’s economic strategy for achieving financial sovereignty.”

“For too long, Indigenous Nations have been unable to access debt on market terms for their on-Reserve projects.  With this successful financing, Kainai Forage and the Blood Tribe are leading the advancement of Indigenous participation in Canada’s agriculture industry,” says Fox.

Export markets for the company include Japan, Korea, the Middle East, and China.

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