Agriculture Funding Programs for Ontario Businesses

Canadian agricultural producers and processors can access a broad spectrum of funding to offset the cost of strategic growth and investment projects. With so many companies operating in this sector from coast to coast, the federal and provincial governments provide targeted funding to fuel business development and diversification. As a result, strategic and forward-planning companies can access thousands or even millions of dollars to complete projects that unlock growth potential.

Agriculture grants and repayable funding programs (loans) can support workforce development, technology adoption, research and innovation, and export market expansion.

Developing and executing a strategic government funding plan starts by identifying manufacturing grants and loans that could support your business’ upcoming projects. Mentor Works can support this important first step towards funding success; companies routinely tap into our pool of resources to identify funding programs worth applying to. Our team of Government Funding Planners™ can support this discovery and application process; just contact us to start a conversation about accessing funding for your upcoming growth projects.

Government Funding for Agriculture and Agri-Food: Build a Plan

Canadian farm and food processing businesses are a primary target for many of the top government funding programs available. In addition to the vast number of programs that exist, one of the biggest benefits of funding in this area is how flexible funding is to support a wide range of projects. While it’s possible to access funding programs on a project-by-project basis, we recommend incorporating grants and loans as part of your overall growth strategy. To do this, we recommend that all manufacturers take time to construct a government funding plan.

Government funding plans are a proactive guide that outlines all upcoming strategic project expenses, then matches them with funding programs to optimize funding potential.

Want to build a funding plan to help get the most out of Canadian government funding programs? The first step is to identify all company investments over the coming 12-24 months. With this roadmap in mind, it becomes easier to align government funding programs.

Mentor Works routinely supports Canadian manufacturers with government funding planning, application, and reporting. To learn more about some of these success stories, check out our Client Spotlight blogs.

Top Canadian Agriculture Grants and Government Funding Programs

Provided through the Government of Canada, these funding programs are available to agriculture and agri-food or beverage businesses across the country. Discover how they can help your company grow and become more innovative:

AgriInnovate

AgriInnovate is designed to help commercialize and/or adopt innovative agri-based products, technologies, processes, or services. Innovations should lead to new market opportunities, either domestically or in export destinations. Read More

  • Amount: Repayable funding of up to 50% project expenses to a maximum $10 million.
  • Eligibility: For-profit Canadian businesses operating in the agriculture or agri-food sector.

Canada Job Grant (CJG)

The Canada Job Grant is a Canadian government funding program designed to reduce the costs of providing third-party skills training to new and existing employees. It’s available across Canada, with each province and territory responsible for co-branding and developing a system that’s suited towards its workforce and business makeup. Read More

  • Amount: Non-repayable grant contributions of 50-100% of training costs (i.e. course, exams, textbooks, software resources, etc.) to a maximum $5,000 to $15,000 per trainee.
  • Eligibility: Canadian SME with $2M liability insurance. Trainees must be a permanent Canadian citizen or granted refugee status.

Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Provincial Streams)

The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a federal-provincial-territorial partnership that pools funding to provide targeted agricultural funding programs across the country. In addition to its typical federal streams, food producers and processors should explore the opportunities available in their operating province(s) to find even more opportunities. Read More

  • Amount: Varies depending on province, applicant type, and project focus.
  • Eligibility: Varies depending on province, applicant type, and project focus.

Protein Industries Canada Supercluster Funding

The Protein Industries Canada program supports collaborative product or process research, technology development, and export market development projects related to expanding Canada’s plant-based protein sector. Read More

  • Amount: Offsets up to 50% of eligible project expenses with no defined maximum contribution. Remaining project funds must be supported by at least two project partners.
  • Eligibility: Must have a minimum of two project partners; all must be PIC members.

Hiring Grants

Hiring grants are widely available across Canada to help onboard new young manufacturing employees. Funding is generally aligned to the type of candidate hired and how long they work for your company; less funding is available to hire interns while more funding is available to support recent graduates. Read More

  • Amount: Depends on candidate type. Interns/Co-op students may help businesses leverage incentives of $5,000 to $7,000 per incremental new hire. Recent graduates may help businesses leverage incentives of $12,000 to $15,000 per new hire.
  • Eligibility: Canadian for-profits and non-profits with the capacity to provide meaningful work experiences. Candidates should be in (or have recently graduated from) a business or STEM education program.

Top Ontario Agriculture Funding Programs

In addition to the Canadian agriculture grants and loans listed above, Ontario-based food producers and processors may qualify for provincially-funded or targeted incentives. These include:

Business Scale-up and Productivity Program (BSP) Southern Ontario

BSP accelerates company growth and helps businesses adopt/adapt innovative technologies that support productivity. Funding supports early adoption or adaptation of innovative technologies and processes, commercializing/producing new products or processes, expanding management capacity, and researching/developing export markets. Read More

  • Amount: Repayable contribution (no-interest loan) of up to 35% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $10 million. Minimum ask of $500k.
  • Eligibility: Southern Ontario businesses, incorporated and profitable for three or more years. Must have five or more employees. Pre-revenue companies and those with fewer than five employees require proof of scale-up potential.

Eastern Ontario Development Fund (EODF)

EODF provides financial support to Canadian SMEs expanding operations and creating jobs in Eastern Ontario. Funding is suited to accommodate projects that will involve investing in new capital equipment, improving existing operations and processes, and pursuing new market opportunities. Read More

  • Amount: Up to 15% of eligible expenses to a maximum $1.5 million in non-repayable grant funding for projects with budgets up to $10 million. Projects with budgets that exceed this amount may be eligible to receive a combination of grants and loans of up to $5 million.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be incorporated for at least three years, have 10 or more full-time employees, and operate in Eastern Ontario. Projects must create at least 10 new full-time positions.

FedDev Ontario Training Program (FOTP)

FOTP supports the development of new engineering skills through training on new software, hardware, or other tools that support innovation within a manufacturing facility. Read More

  • Amount: Up to $100k grant or 25-50% of trainer costs (3rd party or in-house) and 25-50% of trainees’ internal labour costs.
  • Eligibility: Financially stable manufacturers in Southern Ontario with 10-1000 employees, incorporated for ≥3 years, and currently exporting or intending to export following the project.

Eastern Ontario Rural Innovation Initiative (RII)

RII accelerates the growth of innovative SMEs in rural Eastern Ontario. For-profit businesses and non-profit organizations can access funding to advance the global competitiveness and economic diversification of rural Ontario. Read More

  • Amount: SMEs can access up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $100,000 in non-repayable grants. Non-profit organizations may receive up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $500,000.
  • Eligibility: Private, for-profit, high-growth SMEs with potential for accelerated growth through innovation. Also supports non-profits with a mandate to support rural and Eastern Ontario business development.

Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF)

SWODF offers funding to support projects that involve investing in new capital equipment, developing skills, enhancing productivity, and developing new infrastructure. Read More

  • Amount: Up to 15% of eligible expenses to a maximum $1.5 million in non-repayable grant funding for projects with budgets up to $10 million. Projects with budgets that exceed this amount may be eligible to receive a combination of grants and loans of up to $5 million.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be established for at least three years, have 10 or more full-time employees, and operate in Southwestern Ontario. Projects must be completed within a two- to- four-year timeline and create at least 10-15 new full-time positions depending upon project size and company size.

Top Western Canada Agriculture Funding Programs

In addition to the Canadian agriculture grants and loans listed above, food producers and processors based in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba may qualify for provincially-funded or targeted incentives. These include:

Alberta Export Support Fund

The Export Support Fund reduces the cost of attending trade shows in new export markets. The program offers grants to offset travel, select accommodation, event registration, and marketing material translation costs. Read More

  • Amount: Up to 50% of eligible expenses to a maximum $20,000 grant. Can apply once per year.
  • Eligibility: For-profit, incorporated in Alberta for at least two years, with a minimum one employee, and sales ranging from $50,000 to $25 million.

Manitoba Industrial Opportunities Program (MIOP)

MIOP provides low-interest repayable funding contributions to attract investment from small and medium-sized businesses. Funds provide a critical pathway to securing large-scale investments from businesses who are established or looking to begin operations in Manitoba. Read More

  • Amount: Repayable funding contributions ranging from $500,000 to $5,000,000. Five- to seven-year repayment period at RBC prime + 2%.
  • Eligibility: Established or commercially viable businesses in Manitoba. Must provide minimum 20% project costs.

Waste Reduction and Pollution Prevention Fund (WRAPP)

WRAPP offers Manitoba government grants to help businesses, municipalities, non-profits, and educational institutions move towards more sustainable waste management/pollution prevention practices. Read More

  • Amount: Grants typically up to $25,000 per project; innovative projects may receive up to $50,000.
  • Eligibility: For-profits and non-profits, local governments and First Nations, academic institutions.

Western Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) Program

BSP helps businesses with high growth potential adopt/adapt innovative technologies that support productivity, grow operations, and increase exports to global markets. Read More

  • Amount: Repayable contribution (no-interest loan) of up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $5 million per project and $10 million per applicant.
  • Eligibility: Must maintain profitable operations in Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba) for at least two years and be incorporated at the time of application.

Top Atlantic Canada Agriculture Funding Programs

In addition to the Canadian agriculture grants and loans listed above, food producers and processors based in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island may qualify for provincially-funded or targeted incentives. The top one to consider is:

Atlantic Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) Program

The Atlantic BSP program helps businesses with high growth potential to adopt/adapt innovative technologies that support productivity, grow operations, and increase exports to global markets. Read More

  • Amount: Grant or repayable contribution (no-interest loan) of up to 50-75% of eligible project expenses to a maximum $20 million.
  • Eligibility: Must operate in Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island).

How to Navigate the Government Funding Process

The programs listed throughout this article are just some of the many grants and loans available to Canadian agricultural producers and processors. However, identification of government funding programs is just one stage of the funding process. With this information, your business must align applicable projects and strategic spends, then craft and submit a detailed application that reviews your opportunity.

You’re not alone in the process. Mentor Works can help you optimize the entire funding application process; download our free slide deck to learn more about support options.

Navigating the Canadian Government Funding Process

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Written by

Jeff Shepherd holds an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Guelph. He is passionate about Canadian business, economics, and politics. As Marketing Coordinator for Mentor Works, Jeff educates business leaders about proactive funding strategies.

Comments 28

17 February 2014 Reply

Looking to obtain a $200,000 grant or low interest loan for a capital project. Is there any possibilities of obtaining such for an indoor riding arena?
Thanks

21 February 2014 Reply

Hello Murielle,
Thank you for stopping by our blog. I don’t believe your project would qualify for funding for agriculture and agri-food. I would start by visiting your local RIC.

27 April 2014 Reply

i am looking to get into the chicken business is there any help out there

28 April 2014 Reply

Hello Brian,
You are looking here at some of the most popular funding programs for agri-food. However, with these programs, and the majority of programs out there are for established businesses. You can start here: http://www.mentorworks.ca/funding-insider/

27 March 2018 Reply

This may be an old post, curious if there are more current updates for the same purposes?

I’m looking at getting into mushroom cultivation and looking to get and for start up.

Thank you 🙂

27 March 2018 Reply

Hello Amiee,

This year there have been many updates to agriculture & agri-food funding programs. With the launch of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, there are many new and expanded government funding programs provided to established businesses. Unfortunately, there are not as many opportunities for startups and pre-incorporated businesses. For more information on early-stage business funding, please visit our Startup Resources page.

29 March 2018 Reply

Looking for a grant to build a barn for our existing veal meat business. We are currently renting our brother in laws barn and are looking for a grant to build our own barn. This is are second year in business. Is there anything out there for that?

2 April 2018 Reply

Hi Brandi, thanks for your question. Our internal agri-food industry expert says there are no government grants available to build barns. Your best resource for obtaining capital for this project is Farm Credit Canada (FCC).

8 April 2018 Reply

just wondering if there are any funding opportunities with real estate purchase to start a farm?

10 April 2018 Reply

Hi Amanda,

Government grants and incentives do not typically cover real estate costs, such as the costs of purchasing a farm. Your best resource for obtaining capital for this project is Farm Credit Canada (FCC).

17 April 2018 Reply

Hello I am Rafael
I have a project is an aquaponic farm but I don’t know if the grant program help in this kind of projects, I have some knolege but I have to start and I don’t have capital because I am inmigrant. it is possible?
Thanks

18 April 2018 Reply

Hello Rafael. Unfortunately, there are not many worthwhile grants for startups and pre-incorporated businesses. However, Farm Credit Canada (FCC) could potentially provide capital for this project.

17 May 2018 Reply

Hello Ryan,

I am planning to purchase and modernize old, out of business fish farm with capacity of hiring minimum 50 full time employees gradually in two years.
The project needs about 2 million dollars for purchasing and modernization and another $500,000 for the fish stock. The production capacity will be estimated for about 350k to 500k in sales. in 2 years time. Expected wholesale and retail domestic and USA Customers .
I have experience with fish business for almost 30 years.
Can I expect some grants and no interest loans on provincial and federal level, and if yes how much and for each separate business activity.

22 May 2018 Reply

Hi Ryan, there are government funding programs that could potentially support your project. However, we need to know more about your expenses and timelines before recommending some good fits. Please use our Contact Form to speak with a Government Funding Planner; they have the resources to support your funding discovery and application.

3 June 2018 Reply

We are a cow/calf operation. We currently run 40 cow/calf pairs on an average year. We have a mid 70’s 1 storey tie stall barn, 32′ x 170′. We would like to either raise the roof or demo and build new with higher ceilings. The reason we are doing this is so we can contain our manure under cover until we apply it to the fields and so that we can have easier access to handle the cattle during calving and for other handling purposes. We are looking for grants/loans that might bee available for this project.

4 June 2018 Reply

Hi Keenan – Thank you for the background on your project. A Mentor Works team member will be in touch shortly to explore eligibility for funding with you.

25 September 2018 Reply

I currently have a bio beef, chicken, turkeys and eggs farm. Would like to setup a solar based automated greenhouse for selling bio produce to the coop. Project cost 1.4m, currently farm has no debt any help out there

27 September 2018 Reply

Hi Peter, a project of this scale will likely qualify for government funding, but we’ll need to discuss you project in greater detail to make a recommendation. I’ve asked my colleague Katlynd to reach out to you so that you can talk about the project; please expect her email within the next 1-2 business days.

5 January 2019 Reply

Hey there,

We are a chocolate maker operating in Toronto, but with our roots in niagara region. We make chocolate from raw cacao, and are looking to expand into a new production facility to increase efficiency and output. Do you know of fitting grants that could assist in either acquiring the equipment line as well as anything for moving our operation to the area?

We’re currently in the process of looking for land on the wine route to build, so we are a ways out, but feel planning is key!

Any help would be welcome!

7 January 2019 Reply

Hi Kyle, thanks for your message! It seems like there is great potential for funding here; there are a few government incentives that could support your expansion and capital investments but we’ll first need to know more about your project budget and timeline for spends.

I’ve reached out to one of my colleagues who will be in touch with you later today. We look forward to helping you uncover and access funding opportunities!

18 January 2019 Reply

Hello there ,

We have been operating a beekeeping business in Ontario since 1954 ,in the same building for that whole time . The town has slowly grown around us and we are now in the middle of the town. As of lately we have been receiving grate pressures from the municipality with the storage trailers we have on site (4) . The municipality is forcing us to get rid of the trailers and replace with an addition to the honey storage and processing portion of the building. Do to bio security, ease of operations, costs,and multiple other reasons we would like to have all our storage and processing on site as we have for the past 65 years but with out building this additional space we can not operat as we have for the past 65 years . Are there any possible grants that may assist us in remaining were we are and building addition ?

Any help would be very much appreciated , thank you in advance.

Peter

22 January 2019 Reply

Hi Peter, thanks for your question. This is an interesting growth opportunity for your business, and there may be funding programs to help support your facility expansion.

The first program that comes to mind is the Southwestern/Eastern Ontario Development Fund, which is typically what we’d recommend our clients to explore. However, although the fund supports facility expansion and technology adoption, it requires the funding recipient to hire 10+ employees by the end of the project.

Alternately, there could be support available through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Producer or Processor program, although we’re currently waiting for a new cycle of funding to be released before we fully understand what types of projects are being considered for funding.

I’d like you to connect with one of my colleagues who can talk to you about your expansion and learn the scope of your project. That’ll make it easier for us to tailor results towards your budget, timelines, and expected results. Please allow for 1-2 business days and we’ll be in contact by email. Thanks!

25 May 2019 Reply

Hello,
I am looking into buying a piece of land and starting a bee farm in Eastern Ontario region. I plan on taking a few courses to help me get up to speed with things.
I am wondering if there are any grants or bursaries for a bee farm startup. For helping to purchase land, get equipment, get started essentially. Also I am just over 40 now and realise that I just missed out on the young farmers grant, sadly.
Any help and info would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Nicole.

10 June 2019 Reply

Hi Nicole, unfortunately, government funding programs are generally provided to support established, growing businesses. To qualify for many top federal and provincial supports, your business should be incorporated, employ a minimum of three employees, and show a minimum two years of profitable operations. You may wish to learn more about the Canadian Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP) which helps entrepreneurs qualify for bank and credit union loans. These more typical financial products may be a good approach to take instead of diving into the grants/loans space.

25 July 2019 Reply

Hello I’m currently working on a business plan to manufacture, distribute and sell vegan frozen food entrées to grocers across Canada. Is there some help for startup for this type of industry?

25 July 2019 Reply

Hi Melanie – While most government grant and repayable funding programs require applicant businesses to be incorporated in Canada and have a track record of positive net income, there are other support resources that we’d recommend startups investigate. In fact, we’ve created a list of some of the top Startup Resources (click to see the list) that entrepreneurs like yourself should explore to help with financing, business strategy, and mentorship in this critical stage of your business’ development.

30 July 2019 Reply

Hello – we have a tea business in Eastern Ontario and we are looking at growing our own herbs for our custom blend herbal teas and wellness teas. We would like to purchase a farm in the area and wondering if there are any grants/funding available. We are incorporated.

31 July 2019 Reply

Hi Angella – It’s exciting to hear that your business is actively growing and you’re gaining more control over your supply chain! There is likely funding available to support these investments, however we’d need to know a bit more about your business and project before we can pinpoint the optimal funding programs. If you let us know a bit more about your project via our Funding Contact Form, we can provide more insight on funding opportunities for your established business.

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