For over 15 years, the Canadian government has used agriculture policy frameworks to enhance the competitiveness of agriculture and agri-food companies. The latest active framework, Growing Forward 2 (GF2), provides cost-sharing support to businesses within the agricultural sector through several support programs.
Growing Forward 2 is a five-year (2013-2018) framework that will, as of April 1st 2018, be succeeded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP). Like GF2, CAP will have a five-year mandate, active from 2018-2023. With this new framework, Canadian government funding programs will be developed/modified to provide better support for the sector.
At the time of this blog’s posting, new federally-run Canadian Agricultural Partnership programs have been announced; some details of these programs are discussed below. CAP will also maintain provincially-led programs; however, details of these government funding initiatives are likely to be released in mid-March.
Shifting from GF2 to the Canadian Agricultural Partnership
When the Canadian Agricultural Partnership supersedes the current Growing Forward 2 agricultural policy framework, agri-organizations will need to re-orient themselves. Fortunately, the overall structure and types of support provided through CAP is similar to the format of Growing Forward 2.
What is Growing Forward 2?
Growing Forward 2 is a federal-provincial-territorial partnership that pools funds from these levels of government in support of an ambitious cross-country agricultural support program. In Ontario, food and beverage producers/processors can access federal GF2 funds and GF2 Ontario funding. Each province has their own priorities; the same goes for the federal program’s mandates.
Successes of the Growing Forward 2 Framework in Ontario
Many Ontario-based food and beverage processors have flourished through the Growing Forward 2 program. In total, more than $50 million in Ontario agri-food funding contributions were awarded to this group who accomplished nearly 1000 projects with GF2 support. Among those awarded funding, some of the best success stories include:
- Over $150k in Ontario Small Business Grants Awarded to La Rocca Creative Cakes
- York Region Food Processor Boosts Productivity with Growing Forward 2
- $10M Agriculture Technology Investment Improves Product Traceability
- Wellington Brewery: Pouring Success from Growing Forward 2 Ontario
Canadian Agricultural Partnership: What to Expect
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3 billion investment contributed through the federal, provincial, and territorial governments across Canada. When it’s ushered in as of April 1, 2018, it will be the primary financial support mechanism used by the governments to stimulate growth in the agricultural and agri-food sector.
Funding Priority Areas
The new Canadian Agricultural Partnership will include industry funding programs to support the sector’s strategic projects. These funding programs will be closely aligned to six priority areas:
- Markets & Trade: Opening new domestic/foreign markets and helping improve competitiveness through skills development, improved export capacity, and an efficient regulatory system.
- Science, Research & Innovation: Using science and innovation to improve resiliency and increase productivity.
- Risk Management: Enabling proactive and effective risk management, mitigation and adaptation.
- Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change: Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the environment to climate change by enhancing sustainable production growth.
- Value-Added Agriculture & Agri-Food Processing: Introducing and expanding value-added processes to diversify product offerings and increase Canadian-based services.
- Public Trust: Building public trust through solid regulations, improving assurance systems and product traceability.
Federal Funding Programs Available through CAP
As with Growing Forward 2, the new Canadian Agricultural Partnership will provide federal funding to offer several programs to businesses across the country. Confirmed CAP programs include:
- AgriMarketing: Offers grants to participate in international trade shows and trade events with the intention of expanding exports.
- AgriInnovate: Offers repayable funding contributions to commercialize and/or adopt innovative agri-based products, technologies, processes or services.
- AgriAssurance: Offers agricultural grants to help implement third-party assurance certification projects that address international market requirements and help expand export opportunities.
- AgriDiversity: Provides grants to build agricultural leadership and entrepreneurial capacity among under-represented groups, such as youth, women, persons with disabilities, and the Indigenous.
- AgriScience: Offers small business grants to support research and development activities benefitting the agricultural and agri-food sector, either independently or as part of an innovation cluster.
- AgriCompetitiveness: For non-profits only, this stream provides up to 50% of project expenses to a maximum $1M/year (for up to 5 years) to a maximum $5M in grants. Projects should focus on coordinating and building on existing capacity, enhancing safety, and adapting to changing commercial and regulatory environments.
Prepare Your Business for the Canadian Agricultural Partnership
To get ready for the Canadian Agricultural Partnership framework and suite of government funding programs, agri-organizations should begin planning for strategic projects over the coming 12-24 months.
In doing so, businesses will be well-positioned to develop government funding proposals and submit them when these new programs have launched. Applying for funding early can help bypass back-ups in application review process, which is common when programs become more widely known and accessed.
Being ready to apply early in the process, with a strong project, will greatly improve your chances of funding success.
Companies should also look for updates about the Canadian Agricultural Partnership in the coming months, since more updates about specific government incentives could be announced prior to April 1, 2018.