Millions being made available for innovative agriculture ideas

Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. (Photo by Kirk Scott)

The Ontario government is launching a modernized cost-share intake as part of a multi-million dollar program to increase the adoption of technological innovations within the agri-food sector to enhance the health and safety of workers and improve the sector’s efficiency and productivity.

The province calls it the Agri-tech Innovation Program, a $22 million cost-share program that will help farming operations and processor businesses adopt innovative and new technologies.

Agriculture minister Ernie Hardeman says the investment is a step forward in using innovativ technology to guard against the spread of COVID-19 in agri-food workplaces and protect worker health and safety.

This intake will support implementation of sector-specific, unique and innovative technologies in the workplace that enhance protection of workers against COVID-19, lead to increased business efficiencies and productivity, and help build the sector’s resilience.

Some examples of eligible projects include optical grading and sorting systems in vegetable processing or automated, robotic vineyard pruning robots.

Ontario will also invest in high-impact social projects for agri-food workers as part of this component.

Phil Tregunno is the chair of the Ontario Tender Fruit Growers.

He says the industry is well positioned to implement labour saving technologies that will help its competitiveness and grow the industry.

The first intake will run from May 17 to June 21 and further details about the intake will be posted through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs website on May 17.