The Ontario government is now accepting applications from farmers and processors looking to build up their capacities for food safety and traceability.
The federal and provincial governments on Monday pledged $25.5 million over four years for the province’s Food Safety and Traceability Initiative (FSTI) through the “Best Practices” suite of the Growing Forward ag policy framework.
The new initiative is meant to cost-share funding to individual facilities to help enhance and document food safety programs and traceability systems by buying and installing equipment, obtaining certification from recognized food safety programs and/or employee training.
FSTI will reimburse 75 per cent of farmers’ and food plants’ eligible costs, to a maximum of $20,000, for written food safety programs, setting up a working traceability system, and training staff or buying equipment to handle food safety or traceability work.
“Modern traceability systems protect consumers and ensure market access for our farmers and food processors,” provincial Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky said Monday in a release.
“Consumer confidence and the ability to react more quickly in emergencies are the heart of why both the Ontario and federal governments continue to encourage industry to take further steps toward a food tracking system,” the province said.
To receive FSTI funding up to $20,000 for implementing food safety or traceability systems, applicants must first attend a provincial information session and show a certificate from the provincial ag ministry to confirm they’ve taken the sessions.
FSTI support of up to $20,000 for investments in existing food safety programs will only go to applicants certified, audited or verified under a recognized food safety program.
Projects involving purchases of equipment, training or obtaining a first-time certification, verification or audit under a recognized food safety program will be funded only up to $5,000 per applicant.
Projects to be funded involving traceability will need to involve “commingling, movement, storage and/or warehousing of food products, livestock or crops such as beverage wholesaler/distributors, auction barns and grain elevators” or federally-inspected food processing.