GF2′s new AgriMarketing program taking applications

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Canada’s federal and provincial ag departments, ahead of the April 1 launch of their new ag policy funding framework, have opened their new AgriMarketing program to applications from the industry.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, speaking Thursday in Edmonton, fleshed out details for both the AgriMarketing and AgriCompetitiveness arms of the new federal/provincial ag framework, dubbed Growing Forward 2 (GF2).

"By focusing on proactive and cost-effective investments, (GF2) will give producers the tools they need to compete in markets in Canada and around the world," he said in a release.

Thursday’s announcement follows last month’s pre-launch of GF2′s $698 million AgriInnovation program, which opened in December to applications from eligible industry groups but won’t make funding decisions until it formally takes effect in April.

Similarly, while AgriMarketing is now accepting applications, the program doesn’t come into full effect until April.

AgriMarketing

Funded for $341 million over GF2′s five-year lifespan, AgriMarketing isn’t a farmgate program but is rather "designed to help industry improve its capacity to adopt assurance systems, such as food safety and traceability, to meet consumer and market demands."

AgriMarketing "will also support industry in maintaining and seizing new markets for their products through branding and promotional activities."

AgriMarketing funds will be available through two streams: Market Development and Assurance Systems.

Market Development will provide funding, through an application process, to support "industry-led efforts" to expand key export and domestic markets; increase capacity to respond to consumer preferences and emerging food trends; and promote awareness and increase sales of Canadian products.

Applications to the Market Development stream before March 15 this year "will receive priority consideration." Not-for-profit groups can expect no more than $2.5 million per year, while small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can expect no more than $50,000 a year.

Assurance Systems, meanwhile, will back development of Canadian national assurance systems or standards and their related tools, such as food safety systems, animal and plant health surveillance systems, market attribute/quality standards, and traceability systems.

Contributions under the Assurance Systems stream "normally will not exceed" $1 million per project. Applicants will be expected to put up at least 25 per cent of eligible cash and in-kind costs; no more than 10 per cent of total costs can come from in-kind contributions.

Not to be confused with the "GF1" version of the AgriMarketing program, which expires at the end of March, the new AgriMarketing program is meant to build on that program and on the Canadian Integrated Food Safety Initiative, which also ends March 31.

Projects that were eligible under the first AgriMarketing program and CIFSI may be eligible under the new AgriMarketing program, the government said. The new AgriMarketing will invest in "a broader range of initiatives and activities, including ones that enhance Canada’s food safety and traceability systems."

Funded activities under both streams must be completed by the end of March 2018. Applications will be accepted until Sept. 30, 2017 or until all funding is committed.

AgriCompetitiveness

AgriCompetitiveness, which will be funded for $115 million, is expected to make "targeted investments to help the sector adapt to rapidly changing and emerging global and domestic opportunities and issues, respond to market trends and enhance business and entrepreneurial capacity."

A date wasn’t given in Thursday’s release, nor immediately available Thursday from federal ag department spokesmen, for applications to AgriCompetitiveness.

This program, the government said, will provide funding and support through three streams: Facilitating Sector Capacity, Fostering Business Development, and Facilitating and Supporting a Modern Regulatory Environment.

The "sector capacity" stream will support value chain roundtables (VCRTs) to "help enable industry to collectively and strategically build capacity and leadership."

VCRTs have been developed in recent years as "a forum for government and industry to undertake joint action, and promote the adoption of shared-value propositions that meet the needs of rapidly changing domestic and world markets."

The "business development" stream, meanwhile, will be "limited" in funding and will take applications from not-for-profit organizations that operate nationally in Canada. Commodity organizations nor academic institutions will not be eligible.

Proposed projects must be national in scope but can "support and complement (GF2) provincial initiatives with similar objectives." Priority consideration may be given to proposals that continue activities begun under Growing Forward, the government said.

The "business development" stream will back "sector activities" supporting development of "youth, young and established farmers, farm safety initiatives, skills and individual and industry leadership."

The "regulatory environment" stream, meanwhile, will back collaborations between industry and regulatory agencies that "enabl(e) stakeholders to participate and adapt in a regulatory environment that is undergoing modernization."

This stream is also expected to support improved grower access to "newer and more effective pest control tools for specialized crops" through the Minor Use Pesticides Program.

Related stories:
Ritz previews three new ‘Agri-’ programs, Dec. 7, 2012
Impacts from AgriStability reform may be major, Sept. 28, 2012
Ag groups wary of GF2′s risk management funding cuts, Sept. 14, 2012