The Ontario Government is investing $5 million through the Agricultural and Horticultural Support and Recovery Funding Initiative to assist eligible Agricultural and Horticultural Societies impacted by the pandemic.
Programming details were announced today by Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) annual general meeting.
This one-time initiative features two funding streams:
- Base Support Funding of $1.8M will provide eligible agricultural societies with $7,000 and eligible horticultural societies with $1,140. This funding will be automatically issued to all eligible societies to support their continued delivery of agricultural and horticultural education across Ontario.
- Hardship Funding of $3.2M is available to eligible agricultural societies based on their reported gate receipts from 2019. This will help off-set operating losses, liabilities, and fixed overhead costs.
Agricultural societies will be required to confirm their gate revenue by completing a ministry provided attestation, which must be returned by February 8, 2021 to qualify for Hardship Funding with funding expected to flow before March 31, 2021.
The Hardship Funding for Agricultural Societies can be used to cover operating losses due to fixed costs and for expenses related to building capacity for operating through COVID-19, including:
- Membership fees to their association;
- Prepaid expenses of holding events, fairs and exhibitions that were not refundable
- Building and grounds maintenance
- Building organizational capacity to continue operating during and after the COVID-19, including:
- Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment;
- Development of digital platforms for delivering events online;
- Office equipment purchases, i.e. computers, software; and
- Event equipment purchases or rentals, i.e. party tents, equipment to promote social distancing.
More information on program guidelines can be found here:
“Our government is providing funding to help offset losses due to the cancellation of revenue generating activities,” said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. “This funding will also help organizations continue to operate during and after the pandemic by supporting the purchasing of PPE and the development of digital platforms for delivering events online.”
“These societies have a rich history throughout rural Ontario,” said Minister Hardeman. “They play a vital role in agricultural education and provide opportunities for young people across this province to learn and grow an appreciation for agriculture and horticulture. This funding will help support these societies during a difficult period so they can continue to operate and contribute to our economic recovery.”
Agricultural and horticultural societies have played a critical role in educating Ontarians on the importance of agriculture for more than a century. Supporting this important sector, at this time, will ensure the long traditions and economic contributions of the societies will not be lost as the province recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
- The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies is a provincial association representing over 200 agricultural societies from across the province.
- The Ontario Horticultural Association is a volunteer charitable organization that encourages interest in gardening and related environmental issues representing over 280 horticultural societies from across the province.
- Ontario Supporting Agricultural and Horticultural Societies During COVID-19