Growing Forward is a five-year commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments to support the development of a profitable, innovative agri-food sector that is adept at managing risk and responsive to market demands.
The federal and Ontario governments have agreed to pursue three outcomes:
- A competitive and innovative sector;
- A sector that contributes to society's priorities; and
- A sector that is proactive in managing risks.
The federal and provincial governments have committed approximately $300 million in funding for programs over the five years of Growing Forward, from 2008 to 2013. The federal government will contribute approximately $181 million while the province will contribute approximately $121 million.
Growing Forward replaces the Agricultural Policy Framework (APF), a five-year federal-provincial-territorial agreement on agri-food signed in 2003 that helped create a national approach to agri-food.
In Ontario, Growing Forward programs have been developed around two suites: Best Practices and Innovation and Science.
The Best Practices suite will provide programs in the following areas:
- Environment and Climate Change - encouraging the adoption of environmentally sound practices to improve the quality of our soil, water, air and biodiversity.
- Food Safety and Traceability - helping the sector meet market demands by supporting the adoption of practices that improve food safety on farms and in the food and beverage processing industry. These programs will also help producers and processors respond to market demands and improve risk management, by supporting facility-level traceability systems.
- Business Development -helping producers and processors improve their business success by identifying and implementing key management best practices.
- Biosecurity - committed to protecting plants and animals from disease and pests, and to protecting industry from economic losses.
The Innovation and Science suite will encourage ongoing research and the commercialization of research ideas through the following initiatives:
- Science Clusters, industry-led applied science and technology research centres. In Ontario, the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre is becoming a centre of excellence in research and commercialization focused on the horticulture sector.
- The Farm Innovation Program, supporting the development and adoption of innovative on-farm technologies that can increase the ability of producers to respond to changing demands and opportunities and improve on-farm profitability.
- The Agri-Tech Commercialization Centre, expanding opportunities for new agri-based products in Ontario by accelerating the commercialization process and attracting investment.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) is the lead for Growing Forward programs in Ontario. As they did under the Agricultural Policy Framework, OMAFRA, in co-operation with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will establish partnerships with provincial agri-food organizations, including the Agriculture Adaptation Council to deliver specific Growing Forward programs.