Program funds projects to promote local foods

The Ontario Market Investment Fund, announced recently, is a brand new program designed to fund projects that promote consumer awareness of Ontario-produced foods and encourage Ontarians to buy locally.
Applications are available at www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/export/index.html
Grants are available to strategic alliances among, for example, individuals, businesses, producers, processors, and community organizations, including “not for profit” and/or municipalities.
Agriculture and food associations, including retail and food service associations, also can participate.
Groups should include at least one producer or food processor. Projects can fall under the headings of market research, development of market opportunities, communications initiatives, and consumer or trade events.
The Ontario Market Investment Fund will support innovative market research, communications, and/or marketing projects that encourage Ontarians to buy locally-produced foods. Examples of eligible projects include:
•Market research—projects that will improve the understanding of, and access to, market opportunities for local Ontario foods such as emerging opportunities in developing ethnic markets or consumer demand for region-specific food products;
•Development of market opportunities—creating local food networks linking farmers, food processors, retailers, institutional food service companies, restaurants, culinary tourism events, and consumers that will encourage Ontarians to buy locally;
•Communication initiatives—projects that build capacity and develop skills within local food networks, commodity organizations, and other stakeholder groups for the promotion of Ontario foods through marketing campaigns; and
•Consumer or trade events—building business relationships that work to develop new markets for Ontario foods via industry- or consumer-focused promotional activities.
Projects are cost-shared, with the provincial government investing up to 50 percent of the project’s eligible cost. Grants of up to $100,000 per approved project are available.
Applicants must complete one project before applying for additional project grants. Projects may span more than one year.
Eligible expenditures include, but are not limited to:
•market research designed to increase understanding of consumer and trade channel demands and sector capabilities;
•advertising and promotional materials;
•obtaining expert services to help develop local food networks; and
•project management costs related to the delivery of the project.
More detailed information on the application process can be found at www.ontario.ca/omif
Dates to remember
Sept. 27—Harvest dinner, Devlin Community Hall (tickets cost $25 each).

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