Governments Help Local Agri-Food Businesses Capture Online Opportunities During COVID-19Published on December 11, 2020
Over $51,000 in support provided for promotion of Elgin-Middlesex-London food and agriculture products
12 great Elgin-Middlesex-London agricultural businesses are among more than 700 additional businesses in the Ontario agri-food sector establishing or expanding their online presence, with support from the government, helping provide consumers with more access to local food.
With $3.5 million in Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) funding, food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations have developed or expanded e-commerce ventures this year, which are helping to broaden their marketing channels, increase online sales and provide consumers with greater access to a wide variety of food and agriculture products.
In total, 12 local businesses are benefitting from this programming.
Jeff Yurek, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London, today applauded the recently announced initiative by Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
“Local agricultural businesses play a critical role in keeping us connected to our rural roots, putting our communities on the map, and helping us celebrate the very best of our region,” said Jeff Yurek, MPP. “I am thrilled that the provincial government is supporting these great purveyors of all things local in reaching new markets.”
“This support has helped many Ontario agri-food businesses to better and more quickly adapt to the retail challenges of this unprecedented time and to modernize their operations for the future,” said Minister Hardeman. “COVID-19 has changed the way we shop, and our investment in e-business will go a long way to safely connect more retailers with more consumers.”
The Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative featured two streams of funding. One provided grants of up to $5,000 for eligible applicants to establish an online and marketing presence.
A list of approved and contracted projects for these grants is posted online at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/ebusiness-stream1.htm.
The other stream saw eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations apply for cost-share funding to implement high-impact e-business projects. Projects funded under this category include $75,000 for Farmers Markets Ontario to develop an online platform, protocols for logistics of online orders and distribution, as well as marketing and training activities for Ontario’s farmers markets.
A list of approved and contracted projects for this cost-shared funding is posted online at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/ebusiness-stream2.htm
The funding is in addition to other programming launched this year to assist the sector in meeting challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
- The $25.5 million Agri-food Prevention and Control Innovation Program to help reduce disruptions in business operations and risks of COVID-19 exposure in the workplace;
- The launch of a portal to connect farms and other agri-food sector business with labour needs to job seekers;
- The creation of a $26.6 million Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program;
- The investment of an additional $50 million into the Risk Management Program for 2020,, one year earlier than originally promised.
Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to more than 4,200 projects, through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.
- The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion investment which includes $1 billion for federal activities and programs, and $2 billion in cost-shared programs delivered by provinces and territories on a 60-40 basis.
- Businesses in more than 200 Ontario municipalities were supported by this programming.
- Applicants in the cost-share stream of the Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative were eligible for funding up to $75,000.
- The Digital Main Street program supports small businesses in downtowns and main streets across Ontario, including providing the training and support needed to adopt digital technologies that respond to changing retail and service environments due to COVID-19.
The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 837,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.5 billion each year to the province’s economy