The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) has just announced a new program to help fund agri-food businesses starting e-commerce sales or other activities that might open new market channels. This targeted intake is called “Agri-food Open for E-business” and can be found on the OMAFRA website.
Read on for more details of the program, who is eligible, and examples of projects maple syrup producers can apply for in each of the two program streams.
Agrifood Open for E-business – Stream 1: Bring Your Business Online
Stream 1 is looking to target businesses who need to bring their business online quickly. Eligible businesses include farmers (on-farm stores included), on-farm markets, garden centers, greenhouses and nurseries.
Farmers and garden centres can apply to receive up to $5,000 of funding to address marketing challenges through a new, expanded or enhanced on-line presence. Funding under this stream is designed to be quick and responsive for those needing timely solutions.
The priority here is to develop market channels to retain and/or expand sales with primary objective of bringing products to customers.
EXAMPLES for the maple syrup sector that could be covered (starting as of April 24, 2020 until November 30, 2020) under Stream 1 include:
- A Producer developing an online e-commerce site to increase or replace sales from roadside stands. This includes subscription fees (for up to 6 months), e-commerce website design costs and even web ads.
- A Farmers’ Market providing an online platform to share information about products that are now available for sale through alternative channels.
Agri-food Open for E-business – Stream 2: Develop Online Business Opportunities
This stream thinks bigger. It provides cost-share funding to develop e-commerce business opportunities on a larger scale to implement high-impact projects. Individual businesses can apply, as can eligible organizations. Collaborations are also encouraged. Funding is available for up to 90 per cent of eligible costs up to $75,000 (although smaller projects are preferred).
Stream 2 is not just about getting you online, it’s about creating stable, long term online marketing and sales platforms that will help businesses going forward. Priorities here are about creating or expanding new markets and revenue streams, and projects that meet broad business needs for the sector (e.g. an online platform that supports multiple businesses) and collaborative projects.
In this stream, applicants can show their projects are impactful by involving groups that represent multiple stakeholders, and/or by working together with other partners. Applicants can also show their project meets the needs of the broader sector by demonstrating industry support in other ways (such as support letters).
EXAMPLES for the maple syrup sector that could be covered under Stream 2 include:
- A Grower developing and validating a new operation process (e.g. switching from wholesale to retail). This would include the logistics related to new marketing channels (this could be anything from new shelving needed to sell on the roadside or moving products through alternative logistics models), warehousing, shipping (including new packaging), delivery fulfillment (e.g. door-to-door) and other transactions, such as the purchase of new machinery to help adapt to new sales methods (e.g. new POS system that allows for contactless “tap” purchases for roadside, pickup or delivery sales options).
- A Retail Centre (e.g. grocery stores) developing new models to market, merchandise and ship new products like maple syrup and value-added maple products in a contactless manner. This could include website/merchandising expansion, training key personnel on the new process and delivery logistics
- Producer Organizations collaborating with producers or other industry groups to market the benefits and availability of maple products (as long as it’s not restricted to Ontario-grown products only), or creating an app to more easily link growers to sellers.
- A Farmers’ Market collaborating with its market vendors to establish and market an e-commerce platform, and to make minor facility modifications to address social distancing requirements that are directly related to the project.
All applicants to Stream 2 should show the project is meeting the needs of their broader sector by demonstrating industry support through letters from customers, suppliers and farm organizations. A producer can also show the project is meeting the needs of their local area through support letters from regional organizations (e.g., local business/economic development groups).
More information about this new CAP “Agri-Food Open for E-Business” programming can be found at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/index.htm
Make sure to check the Merit Criteria section closely! Note that costs relating to projects starting BEFORE April 24 will NOT be eligible. All applications should be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org
Electronic forms for submission can be found here:
Producers, growers and retailers can apply for one project under EACH stream, in order to get their e-commerce platforms up and running quickly AND to engage in longer term marketing and sales processes that strengthen the sector over the long run.