Due to the complexity of government subsidy and funding programs
and the many steps involved in applying for them, farmers don't
always take advantage of the opportunities available to them. In
some cases, farmers who already rely on one program mistakenly
believe that there's nothing else out there for them. That may
not be the case, however.
Because it's not always simple to find and take advantage of
those opportunities, however, it's important to consult with a
financial advisor who has stayed up-to-date on the ever-changing
These programs can be broken into two categories:
1. Straight subsidies
With subsidy programs, the government provides you with cash to
address a specific financial difficulty. One relevant program that
all farmers across the country should be enrolled in is AgriInvest,
which works like an RESP. You set up an account at the bank,
deposit money and the government matches a percentage of your
contribution, based upon a calculation of certain income items less
certain variable costs. Just about every farmer should be enrolled
in this program.
Ontario also has the Risk Management Program (RMP), which gives
farmers financial support if the sale price for their commodity
falls below the cost of production. Another Ontario program
specific to the horticultural industry is self-directed risk
management program (SDRM). Similar to AgriInvest, the government
matches contributions that you make. Another option is
AgriStability, which gives you a subsidy if your overall business
income falls below a certain average of your income in previous
2. Funding for business improvement
In addition to subsidies, farmers can benefit from funding for
business improvement. For example, if you treat your manure using
an outdated method that's not as good for the environment, the
government may provide subsidies that will cover some of the cost
of updating your equipment. Another example is when you transition
to the next generation, which usually requires the help of
professionals. The cost of employing accountants, lawyers and other
advisors can get expensive—and government funding can help
cover those costs.
The primary program for funding business improvement is Growing
Forward 2. This program funds specific projects that the government
feels are important, including any related to environment and
climate change adaptation. Traceability is another improvement that
government may support. This is the ability to trace what you buy
at the grocery store back to a specific farm. If you buy a steak
that has a traceable label, you can go online, punch in a code and
find out exactly where it came from, allowing you to confirm that
it meets your quality standards. Animal welfare—providing
better housing facilities for animals—has also been known to
attract funding. When you take a closer look at these initiatives,
you will see that they are often the kinds of improvement that you
would be considering anyway, so you should always check to see if
In the past half decade, the government has been moving away
from direct subsidies like AgriInvest and AgriStability. It used to
be a lot easier to qualify for these programs and there was a lot
more money available to farmers. Meanwhile, the government has
thrown additional money at the Growing Forward 2 program. Instead
of providing direct subsidies, they want to improve the management
of operations, modernize the industry and encourage farming
businesses to be more environmentally sound. Consider how such
initiatives might relate/support your current practices or future
plans and be sure to explore all your options. Almost all Canadian
farmers have more opportunities available than they realize.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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