Generating over $630 billion in GDP, $14.8 billion in exports, and employing over 807,000 workers, Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food industry is a critical economic driver. These significant economic contributions are a main reason why the federal and provincial governments invest in agricultural producers and processors. Agriculture loans and grants can help companies leverage market opportunities and grow at an accelerated pace.
Several agriculture and agri-food funding programs are available for Ontario companies to offset the costs of facilities, equipment, or business planning projects.
Because of the wide range of government funding programs that agriculture and agri-food businesses can apply for, it can be confusing to understand which one is best for your upcoming projects. Fortunately, this guide explores the top funding programs exclusively available to food and beverage producers/processors.
Top Government Funding Programs for Ontario’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Industry
Some top small business grants and loans to fuel the success of Ontario food producers and processors include:
- Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Ontario Processors
- Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Ontario Producers
1. AgriMarketing Grants for Trade Shows
AgriMarketing is a stream of the federal government’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) agriculture and agri-food sector funding framework. AgriMarketing helps businesses develop and expand into new international markets. It provides support to SMEs by allowing them to identify market priorities and increase their chance of global success.
How much AgriMarketing funding can businesses access?
AgriMarketing provides Canadian agriculture and agri-food businesses with up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $50,000 per year. Over the five-year lifetime of AgriMarketing, businesses are eligible to receive up to $250,000 in export expansion grants.
What projects are well-suited for AgriMarketing grants?
The central focus of the AgriMarketing Program is to offset the costs of participating in foreign trade shows and government-led trade missions. These projects generally have several associated costs that can be covered through Canadian government funding, including branding and advertising (either print or electronic), product demonstrations, and economy airfare/lodging.
What are AgriMarketing’s eligibility factors?
Applicants must be a good fit to the AgriMarketing Program to successfully receive funding. To be eligible for the program, applicants must:
- Be producers or processors of agriculture, agri-food, fish, or seafood;
- Complete export market research and be ready to enter new markets;
- Have with fewer than 250 employees; and
- Earn under $50 million in annual revenue.
What are AgriMarketing’s funding timelines?
AgriMarketing accepts applications on a continuous basis. This means that applicants should align their application submission around their upcoming trade shows and export events. Applications are typically reviewed within 75 days of submission; once approved, companies can begin incurring AgriMarketing-eligible expenses.
2. AgriInnovate Funding
AgriInnovate is another stream of funding provided through the federal government’s Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP). It’s specifically designed to help companies adopt and/or commercialize innovative agri-based products, technologies, processes, or services. Like AgriMarketing, the 5-year program is active until March 31, 2023.
How much AgriInnovate funding can businesses access?
The AgriInnovate Program offers repayable funding of up to 50% of eligible project costs to a maximum $10 million. Funding is offered through an unsecured 0% interest loan. Companies do not accrue interest on the funding but must repay the contribution after the project is complete. Contributions can be repaid over a period of up to 10 years.
What projects are well-suited for AgriInnovate grants?
AgriInnovate is strictly focused on supporting the commercialization and/or adoption of innovative agri-based products, technologies, processes, or services. New technologies that innovate the sector will be prioritized, followed by technology adoption projects such as:
- Advanced manufacturing, automation, and robotics;
- Adoption of clean technologies, including precision agriculture;
- Projects securing/expanding export markets; and
- Projects strengthening value-added products/services.
What are AgriInnovate’s eligibility factors?
For-profit firms operating in Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and beverage sectors are a great fit for AgriInnovate. The program is less concerned with applicant eligibility and instead focuses on the project’s level of innovation, how technology will innovate the sector, and if the company can afford to repay the funding contribution within a 10-year timeframe.
What are AgriInnovate’s funding timelines?
AgriInnovate offers a continuous call for applications. Agricultural businesses may apply throughout the year by submitting a pre-screening eligibility assessment. Applicants meeting the basic eligibility criteria are invited to submit a full application that is used to determine if a project will be funded. Applicants should submit their eligibility assessment no sooner than four months prior to their project’s start date to ensure relevant expenses are deemed eligible.
3. Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Ontario Food and Beverage Processor Grants
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Ontario Processors program is devoted to supporting businesses that modify or manufacture agricultural products. Food and beverage processors may offset a portion of eligible project costs that directly support competitiveness and offer new growth opportunities.
How much CAP Ontario funding can processors access?
Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Ontario Processors program, companies may receive up to 25% to 50% of project expenses to a maximum $20,000 to $250,000 in grant funding per project. The exact amount that can be awarded is highly related to the type of project completed. Some activities can receive a higher funding contribution than others.
What projects are well-suited for CAP Ontario processor grants?
The types of projects likely to receive CAP Ontario Processor funding include:
- ERP and SCM system implementation;
- Technology and equipment to improve labour productivity;
- Developing new products or processes;
- Marketing products in Canada;
- Marketing products internationally;
- Business plans and assessments;
- Water wells; and
- Marketing plans.
What are CAP Ontario’s eligibility factors for processors?
To qualify for CAP Ontario government funding for agricultural processors, applicants must:
- Directly transform agricultural commodities, food, beverage, or agri-based bio-products;
- Maintain a maximum 200 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees at the facility where a project is completed;
- Operate in Ontario; and
- Have vendor quotes to support project costs.
What are CAP Ontario’s funding timelines for processors?
To access the CAP Ontario: Processors program, businesses must submit a comprehensive application during a call for proposals. Application review takes approximately three months from intake deadline. If approved, projects may begin incurring funding-eligible expenses.
4. Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Ontario Agriculture Grants for Food Producers
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) Ontario Producers program is devoted to supporting businesses that grow, raise, or otherwise produce agricultural products. Agricultural producers may offset a portion of eligible project costs that directly support competitiveness and offer new growth opportunities.
How much CAP Ontario funding can producers access?
Successful applicants may receive up to 30% to 50% of project expenses to a maximum $2,500 to $75,000 in grant funding per project. The exact amount that can be awarded is highly related to the type of project completed. Some activities can receive a higher funding contribution than others.
What projects are well-suited for CAP Ontario producer grants?
The types of projects likely to receive CAP Ontario Producer funding include:
- Business planning and improvements;
- Safety and traceability;
- Farm improvements; and
- Research and development.
What are CAP Ontario’s eligibility factors for producers?
To qualify for CAP Ontario government funding for agricultural producers, applicants must:
- File business and/or farm income/loss taxes in Ontario; and
- Have a valid Farm Business Registration Number (FBRN), unless exempted.
What are CAP Ontario’s funding timelines for producers?
To access the CAP Ontario: Producers program, businesses must submit a comprehensive application during a call for proposals. Application review takes approximately three months from intake deadline. If approved, projects may begin incurring funding-eligible expenses.
Canadian Agriculture Funding Success Stories & Program News
Businesses from across Canada, including those located in Ontario, are constantly awarded government funding to support strategic growth projects. Explore these recent news articles to learn more about agriculture funding programs and the companies they have awarded.
- Ag Action Manitoba Capital Assets and Equipment Deadline: May 15, 2019
- Canadian Agriculture Research Centres: Funding and Innovation Resources
- Dairy Processing Investment Fund: $1M for Organic Cheese Processor
- Dairy Processing Investment Fund: Up to $10M for Capital Investments
- Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) Awards $15M in Funding
Ontario agri-businesses can tap into a substantial network of organizations to support their growth. Discover how to manage, grow, and finance your operations from the industry’s leading resources by downloading the Ontario Agri-Business Growth Guide.
Posted: January 17, 2014. Updated: November 13, 2018.