CANADA – Canada has launched a new US$229.3m Supply Management Processing Investment Fund to stimulate investment in the country’s food processing industry.
The fund will give processors of agricultural commodities access to funding to improve their productivity and efficiency through investments in new automated equipment and technology.
It also leverages private investment in processing plants to accelerate adoption of automation to lower processing costs, address labor shortages and enhance product quality.
Interested processors will be required to submit a project summary form, which will help determine a project’s eligibility and alignment with program criteria and priorities.
Successful applicants will then be invited to submit a full application for consideration with priority being given to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The new funding program comes in the wake of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement which will open Canadian borders to exports from the bloc, further intensifying competition for local manufacturers.
The Dairy sector which is set to benefit from the funding has welcomed the investment from the government.
Michael Barrett, chair of the Dairy Processors Association of Canada noted that the fund will support the additional investments and innovations necessary for the sector to transition to new market realities.
“By supporting investments in processing plants, the Fund will help boost the competitiveness, productivity and long-term sustainability of the Canadian dairy industry,” Barrett added.
Since Canada entered the agreement with the United States, it has been bolstering its dairy and other food processing sectors to enable them compete effectively with imports.
The government had earlier invested about C$2.7bn (US$2.1bn) to compensate and support eligible dairy, poultry and egg farmers.
This was in addition to another C$100m (US$78.4m) invested to help dairy processors as part of the compensation program.
Earlier, a newly funded US$6.1 million project was launched to promote environmental sustainability in Canada’s dairy industry.
The project is headed by Dr. Gisèle LaPointe, a professor in University of Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College.
The five-year initiative in dairy microbiology will involve nearly 50 U of G researchers and students as well as five leading partners in Canada’s US$20-billion dairy industry.
It will focus on coming up with strategies to ensure dairy product quality through improved control of microbial ecosystems from production to processing, said LaPointe.
The Dairy Alliance will receive $3.5 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
An additional $2.6 million in funding and in-kind support will be provided by industry players including Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Novalait Inc., Lactalis Canada and Lallemand Inc.
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