Agriculture Funding Programs for Ontario Businesses

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:

  1. AgriMarketing
  2. AgriInnovate
  3. Canadian Agricultural Partnership: Ontario Processors
  4. 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;
  • Equipment;
  • 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.

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.

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Posted: January 17, 2014. Updated: November 13, 2018.

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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 18

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.

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