Several local agribusinesses tap into ‘Open for E-Business’ program

Frank Heerkens of On the Bend Sugar Shack, one of the awardees of the Open for E-Business program. Zandbergen file photo, Nation Valley News

ONTARIO — Agri-food businesses in Ontario are now eligible for funding from the federal and provincial government as part of the Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative. The initiative aims to promote the development of local food choices through launching or expanding the online presence of businesses such as food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations.

The provincial government announced this week it would be allocating $3.5 million to the initiative, providing eligible businesses with up grants of to $5,000 each. Since the program began in 2018, the government says it has supported more than 4,200 projects through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, some of which are local to SDG.

Against the Grain Farms of Winchester, Avonmore Berry Farm, Barkleyvale Farms Maple Products, Cornerstone Organics, Fieldless Farms, Frank Sugar Shack, Ganden Gardens, Glengarry Maple, Jamink Farm, Kirkview Farms, Mi Cocina, On The Bend Sugar Shack, Paperboat Farms, Pickle Patch Farms, Rijke’s Produce Farm, Stonehouse Vineyard, and The Glengarry market have all launched their web presence through the Open for E-Business initiative.

“COVID-19 has been a major disruptor and has accelerated change to the way we do business in agriculture,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This funding announcement today is helping our farm and food businesses to adapt to the new reality and take their sales online to different e-commerce platforms. Not only will these investments support the trend towards buying local, but it has the potential to support more direct-to-consumer sales for our farmers and food businesses.”

“This support is helping many Ontario agri-food businesses better and more quickly adapt to the retail challenges of this unprecedented time and to modernize their operations for the future,” said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “COVID-19 has changed the way we shop, and our investment in e-business will go a long way to safely connect more retailers with more consumers.”

“I am happy to see so many area businesses upgrading their online presence, as it is a very important way to market their products, especially during these challenging times when many consumers are shopping from home,” said Jim McDonell, MPP for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

Applicants can choose one of two funding streams, the first to establish a web presence, the second to implement cost-share funded e-businesses projects. To find out if you are eligible, go to OMAFRA’s website.

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