Ontario Delivering Support to Agricultural and Horticultural Societies
The Ontario government is providing $5 million to support the province’s Agricultural and Horticultural Societies impacted by the pandemic. The funding is flowing through the Agricultural and Horticultural Support and Recovery Funding Initiative.
Programming details were announced on Tuesday, January 26th, by Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association annual general meeting.
“Agricultural and horticultural societies play a vital role in agricultural education while making significant contributions to the economy of rural Ontario,” said Minister Hardeman. “This funding will help support these societies during a difficult period so they can operate future fall fairs and exhibits and participate in our future economic recovery.”
Societies have been unable to hold revenue generating events over the past 10 months due to health and safety concerns around COVID-19.
This onetime initiative features two funding streams: $1.8 million Base Support Funding will provide eligible agricultural societies with $7,000, and eligible horticultural societies with $1,140 in funding to support their continued delivery of agricultural and horticultural education across Ontario. $3.2 million Hardship Funding for eligible agricultural societies will provide additional support, which will be based on their reported gate receipts from 2019. This will help off-set operating losses, liabilities, and fixed overhead costs.
Funding is expected to be completed before March 31st, 2021.
“The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OAAS), is grateful for the support from the Ontario Government,” stated Vince Brennan, Manager, Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies. “Their investment shows the confidence and appreciation the government has for Ontario Agricultural Societies and their impact, especially during these challenging times. This funding will help support our Agricultural Societies and their communities.”
“On behalf of the 273 societies/clubs of the Ontario Horticultural Association, we extend our gratitude for your generous financial support,” shared Katharine Smyth, President, Ontario Horticultural Association. “As you know, the societies/clubs have seen reduced membership numbers and have been unable to raise funds to continue their community involvements. Your consideration and response to their needs during the pandemic, by way of providing them extra finances will go a long way to support them through this crisis.”
Agricultural and horticultural societies have played a critical role in educating Ontarians on the importance of agriculture for more than a century. Supporting this 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.