CHRISTA ROETTELE, Communications Branch OMAFRA
The Ontario government is providing $1.1 million in additional funding to offer continued support for the province’s agricultural and horticultural societies impacted by COVID-19.
The pandemic continues to place financial pressures on agricultural and horticultural societies across the province as many will be unable to hold their primary revenue-generating fairs and events again this year.
The government will provide up to $5,000 for each eligible agricultural society and up to $1,500 for each eligible horticultural society, equal to their 2019 grants. This is the latest investment from the provincial government to strengthen Ontario’s agri-food sector, ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and fostering vibrant rural economies. This latest funding follows the January 2021 investment of $5 million to help support agricultural and horticultural societies impacted by cancelled events in 2020.
“We recognize Ontario’s agricultural and horticultural societies play a significant role in our communities throughout the province, and the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to have a negative impact on their local initiatives,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “That financial impact continues to hurt these local organizations, and while Ontario is in the midst of a safe reopening plan, our government is acting now to safeguard future projects and events.”
The funding will enable agricultural and horticultural societies to offset membership losses and revenue so they can continue to meet their immediate financial needs and work towards planning future events within health and safety guidelines.
The current grant program requires agricultural and horticultural societies to operate their fairs, events and activities in order to qualify for funding. This automatic one-time payment replaces the 2021 grant so that agriculture and horticultural societies can receive the grant without having to hold their traditional fair or complete their community projects.
“The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS) is very grateful that OMAFRA has continued to show their support and confidence in our Agricultural Societies,” said Beth Howell-Veraecke, President of the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies. “Their fairs and other local events engage and involve their communities while promoting agriculture and food awareness. We appreciate that OMAFRA understands our challenges during this pandemic and recognizes Agricultural Societies’ value to their communities.”
“On behalf of the Ontario Horticultural Association, its 270 societies with 22,000 members, I would like to thank the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for your continued support announced today,” said Katharine Smyth, President of the Ontario Horticultural Association. “Horticultural societies have been greatly impacted by COVID-19, and this funding will go a long way to help us with our post-pandemic recovery efforts.”
Agricultural and horticultural societies have played a central role in highlighting the importance of agriculture to life in Ontario for more than a century. Supporting this sector at this critical time will ensure that the long traditions and economic contributions of the societies will not be lost as the province recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.