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Ont. backs organic dairy partnership

A Guelph organic dairy planning to include water buffalo, goat and sheep milk in its product offerings will get up to $595,000 in provincial funding.

The Ontario government announced up to $495,000 in funding Tuesday through its Rural Economic Development Program for the new facility, a partnership between Guelph organic co-operative Organic Meadow and Steen’s Dairy Ltd. of Erin, about 30 km northeast.

The project will also get up to $100,000 through the Ontario Market Investment Fund, which supports “buy local” initiatives.

The provincial funds “will enable both Organic Meadow and Steen’s Dairy to expand their range of milk products and to introduce innovative new products,” Organic Meadow CEO Steve Cavell said Tuesday in the province’s release.

“This, along with the consumer strength of our Foodland Ontario membership, will allow us to increase employment in Guelph and to expand our purchases of milk from Ontario farmers.”

(The provincially-funded Foodland Ontario program backs marketing and promotion for Ontario-produced foods at the retail level.)

“The growth of these two companies will use more milk produced by local dairy farmers, provide more jobs for local workers, and give consumers more reasons to shop locally,” Guelph MPP Liz Sandals said in the same release.

The province said its support will help the partnership create a “state-of-the-art dairy facility” at a retrofitted plant in Guelph for organic milk products.

The funds are also expected to help boost capacity for “new and innovative” products, increase the plant’s volume of dairy products, retain staff and create opportunities for more new jobs.

Organic Meadow, formed in 1989, expanded into organic dairy goods in 1995 and currently offers milk, ice cream, butter, cheese, sour cream and yogurt as well as eggs and frozen vegetables.

Steen’s, which bills itself as one of the province’s leading independent dairies, was started by Fred Steen in 1944.

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