Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker has announced that local Agricultural and Horticultural Societies impacted by the pandemic will receive funding support to help them through the COVID-19 recovery in 2021.
Programming details under the $5 million program were announced this week by Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association annual general meeting
Walker welcomed the announcement that will help protect and support Agricultural and Horticultural Societies through the next phase of COVID-19 economic recovery.
“I want to thank Minister Hardeman for his commitment to this program. Supporting our agricultural and horticultural traditions is important to maintaining the economic fabric of our rural communities and their contributions to our economic recovery,” said Walker.
“These societies have a rich history throughout rural Ontario,” said Minister Hardeman. “The volunteers who are the heart and soul of these volunteer organizations play a vital role in agricultural education and provide opportunities for people young and old across this province to learn and grow an appreciation for agriculture and horticulture. This funding will help support these societies during a difficult period so they can continue to operate.”
Societies have been unable to hold revenue generating events over the past 10 months due to health and safety concerns around COVID-19.
This one-time initiative features two funding streams:
- $1.8M Base Support Funding will provide eligible agricultural societies with $7,000 and eligible horticultural societies with $1,140 in funding to support their continued delivery of agricultural and horticultural education across Ontario.
- $3.2M Hardship Funding for eligible agricultural societies will provide additional support which will be based on their reported gate receipts from 2019. This will help off-set operating losses, liabilities, and fixed overhead costs.
Funding is expected to flow before March 31, 2021.
“Agricultural and horticultural societies have played a critical role in educating Ontarians on the importance of agriculture for more than a century. Supporting this important sector, at this time, will ensure the long traditions and economic contributions of the societies will not be lost as the province recovers from the impacts of COVID-19,” adds Walker.
The Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies is a provincial association representing over 200 agricultural societies from across the province. The Ontario Horticultural Association is a volunteer charitable organization that encourages interest in gardening and related environmental issues representing over 280 horticultural societies from across the province.