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Greenbelt farms offered funds for energy measures

Farmers in southern Ontario’s Greenbelt will be able to tap into a new program to help pay for on-farm energy efficiency measures.

The Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation, the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan and the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program will back the Greenbelt Green Energy Program for Agriculture, to be administered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA).

Many Ontarians are familiar with existing rebates for residential retrofits and upgrades, the groups said, and “this program applies the same principles to the agricultural setting.”

The foundation said it will contribute up to 25 per cent of the cost for projects such as farm energy audits, insulation, heating, cooling, lighting and machinery upgrades and installation of wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and biogas systems and equipment.

Farms located within Ontario’s Greenbelt that satisfy eligibility requirements can “readily access funds,” the release noted. The maximum funding a farm business can get from the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation through the Green Energy program is $13,000.

Any proposed project must be physically located in the Greenbelt. OSCIA will distribute funding on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible projects until funds for the program year in question are all committed.

The program’s 25 per cent will come “in addition to amounts available through the Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program,” according to a release.

The Greenbelt is the province’s designated zone of permanent protection for 1.8 million acres of farmland and other “environmentally sensitive” land around southern Ontario’s Greater Golden Horseshoe, taking in the Niagara Escarpment, the Oak Ridges Moraine, Rouge Park, several hundred rural towns and villages, and about 7,100 farms.

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