The Canadian and Ontario governments have signed an agreement that will see $1.5 billion of Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) money available to be spent in the province.
Ontario Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal said the five-year program will start April 3, which, he added, will mean a seamless transition between the current federal-provincial agriculture and food funding partnership, Growing Forward 2, and its sequel, CAP.
Why is this important? Federal-provincial funding programs have become a major source of project funding for farm organizations, farmers and food companies. Having the program in place on time will means there will be less lag time between current and future programs.
Leal announced the program’s rollout at the OMAFRA building in Guelph Tuesday, on Canada’s Agriculture Day, to a room full of Ontario’s agriculture leaders and organization representatives.
“The emphasis going forward over the next five years of course will be on innovation creating export opportunities,” said Leal.
“One of the ways we think we can continue to build agriculture in Ontario is those value added jobs. By putting and emphasis on scaling up, we’ll have entities in Ontario who can compete with anyone in the world.”
Here are preliminary facts on how the product will roll out in Ontario. Workbooks will be available soon, said Leal.
The $1.5 billion will be paid for 60 per cent by the federal government and 40 per cent by the province.
Of $1.5 billion, $1.1 billion has been set aside for business risk management (BRM) funding and $417 million for strategic initiatives.
The Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association will continue to be the delivery organization for farmer-level programs, the Agricultural Adaptation Council will provide funding for agriculture organizations and partnerships and OMAFRA will continue to provide funds for food processors. This follows the process for Growing Forward 2.
“When I was out chatting with our various elements of the Ontario ag community, the certainly looked at GF2 and indicated to me that not a lot needed to be changed,” Leal said. “It could be some fine-tuning in a couple areas.”
The Growing Forward 2 program contributed to 6,800 projects with Ontario producers, processors, organizations and collaborations.
OMAFRA deputy minister Greg Meredith thanked OMAFRA staff who had worked to get the program ready on time.
“A billion and a half dollars for our farmers, for our innovators, food businesses — that’s a big story, folks, and that’s a big opportunity.”
— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia based at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @jgreig on Twitter.