Forms available for Alta. processor funding

The Alberta government is now taking applications for two new agribusiness funding programs aimed at improving food processes and developing new products.

A total of $10.27 million in federal/provincial funding will flow to the Agri-Business Automation and Lean Manufacturing program ($8.05 million) and the Agri-Business and Product Development program ($2.22 million) through the Growing Forward ag policy framework, the province said in a release Thursday.

“These programs will not only stimulate business and market development, but they will also improve product quality and safety,” provincial Ag Minister George Groeneveld said.

The Agri-Business Automation and Lean Manufacturing program is meant to stimulate investment and capital expansion by helping to improve the productivity of food producers and processors through cost reductions and/or increases in operational efficiencies, the province said.

The program “encourages the adoption of best practices, new technologies and state-of-the-art processes that improve food safety, food quality and increase value and market access.”

Eligible applicants for the Automation and Lean Manufacturing program include existing or prospective Alberta companies looking to sell or add value to Alberta agri-food products; processors who use or plan to use Alberta livestock as inputs in their products and produce them in Alberta; and Alberta producers, producer groups or value chains that use or plan to use Alberta crop inputs in food products made in the province.

The non-livestock component of this program will be delivered by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. Its funding for livestock projects, meanwhile, will be delivered by the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency (ALMA).

The program covers up to 20 per cent of eligible costs for capital projects, while eligible costs of “non-capital” projects, such as third-party costs, consulting and engineering fees, training and travel will be covered for up to 50 per cent.

Maximum individual grants under the program would be determined on a case-by-case basis, the province said.

“Market driven”

The Agri-Business and Product Development Program, meanwhile, is meant to stimulate new investment in value-added food and agri-product processing, particularly in “innovative, market driven opportunities to commercialize a product, create healthy or healthier products or expand (a) business.”

Its intended beneficiaries include existing or prospective processors who make and market livestock-related value-added food products; producers, producer groups or value chains that use or plan to use Alberta livestock inputs in products made in Alberta; and processors that use or intend to use Alberta livestock as inputs in their product and produce the product in Alberta.

Eligible projects could include feasibility studies, marketing plans, business plans, value-chain development, lean manufacturing or competitiveness assessments, product development and packaging development.

Successful applicants would get 50 per cent funding for up to $500,000 of a project’s eligible costs. The livestock-related component of this program would also be delivered by ALMA.

“This is another important step in helping farmers, our livestock folks and processors improve their bottom line and bring new products to new markets,” federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said in the province’s release.

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