The governments of Canada and Ontario have announced they are investing up to $2.5 million to help the agri-food sector expand online. The investment hopes to help producers get their businesses online and provide anyone shopping from home more food choices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative will help food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations develop online businesses. The funding is being provided through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
This targeted application intake features two funding streams:
Bring your business online: Eligible organizations and businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to establish an online e-business and marketing presence. Funding under this stream will be quick and responsive for those needing immediate solutions.
Develop online business opportunities: Eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations can apply for cost-share funding of up to $75,000 to implement high-impact projects.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will immediately accept applications and expedite the approval process. Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.
The first stream provides funding for the development (or expansion) of an online marketing/sales platform, website design, marketing, minor facility modifications, among other costs associated with transitioning to a new market channel. OMAFRA states that this funding can be applied for costs incurred on or after April 24, 2020 – which leaves out costs incurred by producers before this date. For some fruit and vegetable producers, they have already seen significant chances to their delivery models and no doubt incurred costs already.
Costs eligible for funding include the development (or expansion) of an online marketing/sales platform, website design, marketing, minor facility modifications, among other costs associated with transitioning to a new market channel.
The second stream provides funding for many of the same activities but offers more funding of up to $75,000 (for up to 90 per cent of eligible costs) for “high-impact” projects.