The Grassroots Growth Initiative Provides Funding for Ontario Agri-Food Marketing

The Ontario agri-food sector is getting a boost of support from the Ontario government via an annual $1 million investment to help drive sales of local food producers and processors. This government funding is being allotted by the Grassroots Growth Initiative (GGI), a provincial program that provides broader opportunities for the agri-food sector and Ontario farms.

“Ontario farmers and food processors grow and make healthy fruits, vegetables, flowers, meat, honey, eggs, dairy, maple syrup, and other processed foods throughout the year. This funding will help boost awareness of all the good things that are grown and made in Ontario. Making it easier for consumers to recognize and buy local not only helps our farmers, food processors, families and communities, but it also helps to keep Ontario’s food supply chain strong.”

– Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The types of initiatives this program will support will drive public support for local food and Ontario agriculture, strengthen the public’s trust in Ontario farms, and provide youth leadership opportunities to get involved in the agri-food sector.

“The Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers would like to thank Minister Thompson for access to funding that will support local greenhouse vegetable products hitting the shelves and homes of more Ontarians. This initiative furthers the Ontario advantage, supporting provincial producers and strengthening nutritious and affordable food for Ontarians.”

George Gilvesy, Chairman of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers

Applicants for this program should provide detailed project outlines and rationale for their projects as the minister will decide which applicants for the GGI will receive funding upon completion of an Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) review.

Funding Amount

Projects eligible for the Grassroots Growth Initiative is strongly encouraged to be cost-share funding. Applicants that can demonstrate financial support from third-party sources will be given higher merit in the application-review process. Funding for a project may not be stacked with other GGI funding from a partnering source. However, GGI may be stacked with other federal or provincial funding programs as long as it does not violate the other program’s guidelines and does not surpass 100% of project costs.

OMAFRA has allotted up to $1 million annually in funding to support local agri-food organization marketing projects. Successful applicants for the Grassroots Growth Initiative may receive up to 50% of eligible project costs for projects, up to $100,000 in cost-share funding.

Eligible Applicants

All applicants eligible for the GGI funding must be in the agri-food sector and have Ontario farm or agri-business locations. Moreover, applicants for the Grassroots Growth Initiative may be eligible if they also meet the following criteria:

  • Applicants must be a corporation, partnership, sole proprietor, or unincorporated association. Indigenous communities and band councils may also be eligible;
  • Applicants should possess the authority to enter into legal agreements;
  • All possible sources of funding provided or having been requested for the aforementioned project must be disclosed; and
  • All Requirements of Law must be obeyed, and the organization must agree to remain in compliance for the term of the agreement.

To learn more about eligibility requirements for this initiative, please refer to the Grassroots Growth Initiative (GGI) program page.

Eligible Projects

Project proposals for the Grassroots Growth Initiative may be funded if they meet one or more of the eligibility criteria:

  • The project will raise public support for Ontario agriculture and participation in the sector via local food purchasing and rural development;
  • The initiative stimulates youth leadership capacity and spurs youth involvement in the agri-food sector;
  • The project enhances overall safety and risk management practices in the agri-food sector;
  • Strengthens trust and public knowledge of Ontario’s agri-food sector; and
  • The project encourages agri-food and rural development outcomes.

Learn more about program criteria by reviewing the Grassroots Growth Initiative program page.

Eligible Costs

All costs that are incurred for a proposed project must follow a transparent and reasonable process of documentation to ensure an appropriate use of funds. Furthermore, the following costs may be eligible for the GGI program:

  • The costs of purchasing or renting goods such as equipment and supplies and their accompanied shipping and installation costs. Capital costs may also be considered on a case-by-case basis but should be minimal. Explanation for why any costs are necessary must be provided;
  • Staff salaries and benefits (severance not included). Note: all related costs should be pro-rated and therefore reflect the amount of time spent working directly on the project accurately;
  • Third-party service costs. Note: all related costs should be pro-rated;
  • Costs of land rental for research purposes;
  • Costs related to facility rentals;
  • Travel and meal costs may be considered on a case-by case basis but should be minimal and must be essential for project success. Meal costs must be for restaurant/prepared food and cannot include alcohol.

Read a full outline of the Grassroots Growth Initiative program page for a full-scope understanding.

Program Timeline

Applicants will receive a confirmation of receipt within five days of submission. The Grassroots Growth Initiative (GGI) has no deadline. However, only a maximum of $1 million may be allotted via OMAFRA per year. Therefore, funding is available until fully committed.

Exploring Government Funding Opportunities

We suggest applicants use our When to Apply for Government Funding resource to learn the ins and outs of when to apply for programs. To discover more about opportunities in funding relief, visit our news channel for daily updates, or contact a Mentor Works representative.

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 $39 billion in revenues, Ontario is one of the sector’s most active and competitive jurisdictions in North America.

To learn more about the agriculture sector and the government funding opportunities available for agri-businesses in Canada, download our free Canadian Agri-Business Growth Guide.

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