The Ontario government is investing up to $25 million over two years to build up the province’s food processing capacity. The new Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund Program, which was announced in the 2021 Fall Economic Statement, to increase the province’s food processing capacity, strengthen its food security and position the agri-food sector for economic growth, will launch on April 1, 2022.
Ontario’s food processing sector faces challenges to their ability to process more of the food that is grown in the province, including aging technology and facilities. Many aging food processing plants are limited in their capacities to expand and compete by outdated equipment and inadequate operational space to add new, efficient production lines.
The Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund will support industry investment in projects that address the processing capacity shortage and increase the sector’s competitiveness and resilience against future disruptions. Agri-food businesses are eligible for up to $3 million in cost-share funding to either build new processing facilities, expand or modernize existing facilities and adopt new innovative technologies to improve current operations.
“This strategic investment will boost competitiveness and create new opportunities for the Ontario food processing sector and the entire supply chain,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “By enabling more private-sector investments that increase local food production, we’re ensuring Ontario has a safe and stable food supply made right here at home while driving economic growth and creating good local jobs.”
In an effort to increase local food production across Ontario, rural, northern and Indigenous businesses will receive an additional five per cent in cost-share funding to build critical processing capacity in underserviced areas.
“This funding program is a great opportunity for local agri-food businesses to grow as they contribute even more to enhancing Ontario’s food supply chain,” said Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry. “I encourage everyone to prepare an application after the April 1 launch.”