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Farmers can expect export support

An Elmira-area farm set the stage for a new round of government funding to support producers find new markets during the ongoing trade dispute with China.

Provincial Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman announced an additional $1 million under the Market Access Initiative while visiting RJM Cattle & Poultry on Tuesday morning.

A cost-sharing project between the federal and provincial governments, the initiative is accepting applications from eligible farmers and agri-food businesses until September 27. The funding is available to businesses across Ontario that are directly involved in or support the processing, production, or sale of agri-food or agri-products for domestic or export markets.

For this week’s announcement, Hardeman was joined by Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris, Ontario Pork chair Eric Schwindt, Beef Farmers of Ontario president Joe Hill, and Brendan Byrne on behalf of the Grain Farmers of Ontario.

“Anyone who has an initiative to try and piece their market outside of Ontario that moves forward… they can apply to get funding at 75 per cent of whatever the cost of doing that project is,” explained Hardeman. “Hopefully, that will cover all the commodities that are having difficulties with the trade challenges.”

While the governments will fund up to 75 per cent, there is a maximum at $20,000 per project.

Those involved with the farming industry – Hill, Schwindt, and Byrne – welcomed the announcement, and described the challenges faced in their sector throughout the past several years due to factors outside their control.

“Trade disruptions and non-tariff trade barriers imposed by other markets on our products results in a significant loss that directly impacts beef farmers, processors and the entire supply chain,” said Hill.

“With the China closure alone, the Canadian beef industry expects to lose $250,000 per week from previous export volumes.”

He added that beef producers, along with many other sectors in agriculture, are heavily dependent on the export market.

“Close to one-third of all beef produced in Ontario is exported to higher-value markets like the United States, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, South Korea, and others,” said Hill.

The funding will come through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), a five-year, $3-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments focused on strengthening the agriculture and agri-food sector. Ten projects across the Waterloo Region, including three in Woolwich and Wellesley townships, were part of new CAP funding announced last month.

Eligible projects for the Market Access Initiative could include activities such as developing plans to access domestic or international markets, or investigation of regulatory requirements or standards for new markets.

The application intake will review applications and remain open until the funding budgeted for the initiative is no longer available. Producers can only apply for one project at a time; once a decision has been made, they may apply again.

“We’re working hard to make sure farmers here in Woolwich, and all over the province have open access to markets for more of many of the good things that grow here in Ontario,” said Harris.

For more information, visit www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap.

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