Agri-Tech Innovation Program: Funding Support for Ontario’s Farm and Processor Businesses

Ontario agri-food businesses feed millions of people around the world. With more than 3,000 active food and beverage processors, 97,000 workers, and over $39 billion in revenues, Ontario is one of the agriculture sector’s most active and competitive areas in North America.

Open for intake as of Monday, May 17, the Agri-Tech Innovation Cost-Share Program is an Ontario government funding program supporting the adoption of innovative technologies in agricultural businesses to improve protection efforts against COVID-19, enhance business processes and productivity, and help nurture Ontario’s agriculture sector.

Through the Early Adopters Stream of the Agri-Tech Innovation Cost-Share Program, Ontario farm and processor applicants can receive up to 35% to a maximum of $100,000 per eligible project to offset costs on a relevant project with a value of at least $150,000.

The Early Adopters Stream provides agri-food funding to eligible Ontario businesses for the implementation of advanced automation or manufacturing technology to reduce the risk of potential COVID-19 exposure and transmission among agri-food workers by establishing safer work practices and processes.

Details and intake for the Innovators Stream will open following the Early Adopters Stream. The first intake for the Early Adopters Stream is open from May 17 to June 21, 2021.  

Please contact the Mentor Works Team if you are an Ontario farm or processor business interested in applying.

Funding Snapshot: Agri-Tech Innovation Program

With a highlighted importance of keeping the agri-food sector safe and strong during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Agri-Tech Innovation Cost Share Program supports the modernization of agricultural workplaces by funding projects that adopt advanced or innovative technology to enhance the protection of workers’ health and safety, lead to improved business productivity, and help grow the sector’s resilience in Ontario.

“Technology and modern equipment make today’s farms more efficient and safer, both for people and the environment. This program will not only protect farmers and farm workers from the COVID-19 pandemic, but it will also enable investments in new processes and state of the art equipment.”
– Peggy Brekveld, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Amount of Funding

The Early Adopters Stream provides up to 35% to a maximum of $100,000 per eligible project to offset costs on relevant projects with a minimum value of $150,000.

The details and intake for the Innovators Stream will open following the closing of the Early Adopters Stream. Details will be posted here as they become available.

Eligible Applicants

An applicant must be either an Ontario farm or processing business as outlined:

  • An established Farm Business that is a legal entity and produces agricultural commodities in Ontario under a valid Farm Business Registration Number (FBRN), or an allowable exemption.
  • An established Processor Business that is a legal entity that handles agricultural commodities, food, beverage, or agri-based products in Ontario. This includes primary food processing, such as businesses that manufacture products that cut, clean, package, store, and refrigerate raw plant food.

Eligible Ontario Farm or Processor businesses must:

  • Be adopting an Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology; and:
  • Be and remain in compliance with all Requirements of Law for the duration of the project;
  • Have a valid and up-to-date Premises Identification (PID) Number for the business location where the project is to take place;
  • Provide a Canada Revenue Agency Business Number as part of the application process, if applicable; and
  • Be capable of entering into a funding agreement with the Province of Ontario and meeting their obligations under it.

Eligible Projects and Activities

Projects that will lead to the adoption of Advanced Automation or Manufacturing Technology that support the following outcomes:

  • Allow businesses to shift away from labour-intensive work practices or processes to help prevent the exposure and transmission of COVID-19, and
  • Address at least one of the following labour-related project impacts:
    – Allow business to focus redeployment of workers to higher value-added activities
    – Reduce the ongoing labour shortage pressures in the sector
    – Attract more highly skilled labour to businesses within the sector
    – Increase productivity

Examples of Eligible Projects:

Projects that may be eligible for Farm business applicants:

  • Adoption and integration of an automated rack handling system and seeding machines in a greenhouse setting
  • Adoption and use of a fully automated optical grading system with visually guided robotics for the grading and sorting of vegetables replacing manual grading/sorting
  • Adoption of solar powered autonomous robotic vineyard pruning robots with optical/spectral guidance systems in place of manual pruning
  • Adoption of semi-autonomous or autonomous self-propelled transplanters replacing manual/mechanical processes where distancing employees is difficult

Projects that may be eligible for Processor business applicants:

  • Installation and training staff on the use of a robotic deboning machine for whole chicken legs replacing labour intensive manual cutting and deboning stations
  • Adoption and use of a fully automated optical packing system with visually guided robotics for the sorting and packing of product replacing manual packing/sorting

Program Timeline

This Early Adopters Stream of this program opened for intake on May 17, 2021. Eligible Ontario farm and processor applicants must apply by June 21, 2021 to be considered for funding approval.

The intake period for the Innovators Stream will open following the closing of the Early Adopters Stream.

Government Funding Options for Agri-Food Businesses

Discover Canadian government grant and loan programs currently available for agriculture businesses through the Food & Beverage Business Funding Programs Directory Page.

“A fertile soil alone does not carry agriculture to perfection.”
– Elias Hasket Derby

To learn more about how to manage, grow, and finance an agri-business in Ontario specifically, download our free Ontario Agri-Business Growth Guide for a wealth of resources, links, tools, and support services related to cultivating strong agriculture and food processing businesses.

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