Adopt USA Food Safety & Traceability Protocols by Leveraging Government Grants

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Thursday October 02, 2014

Mentor Works Logo SmallThis is a guest post written by Mentor Works, an organization that enables small businesses to access Canadian government funding and grants.

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When it comes to food safety, citizens of developed nations like the U.S., the U.K., and Canada hold stringent, but differing standards. Over the past several decades demand for safety has driven innovation in food safety and traceability systems that has led to Canada consistently receiving top marks in global safety performance reports. Now, with a recovery from the recession in the US, along with the rapid growth of the middle class in developing nations, opportunity exists for both Canadian food producers and processors, as well as those who directly export food safety systems.

In recognition of the positive impact such opportunities can have on the Ontario economy, federal and provincial governments have established incentives for companies that engage in projects that will help maintain Canada’s standing as a world leader in food safety and traceability. Across Ontario, agri-food processors looking to expand into the USA are now accessing government grants, in order to fund improvements to comply with the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Other organizations are utilizing funding to develop and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans to address food safety through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product. These are just two examples of food safety and traceability goals that government funding dollars are helping small and medium-sized businesses to accomplish through Growing Forward 2 (GF2).

Over the course of a five-year period, the governments of Canada and Ontario are investing a combined $417 million through this funding program (GF2). The Ontario-specific variant, Growing Forward 2 Ontario, has already dedicated tens of millions in funding to improve the economic capabilities and sustainability of the agriculture and agri-food industries in Ontario. Ontario’s Growing Forward 2 Program supports projects with up to $350,000 for food processors and producers for capacity building and project implementation projects – up to $100,000 of which, is available to be directed towards capital investments.

As an example of how this program works, the owners of a bakery operation in the Vaughan, Ontario region needed to secure SQF (Safe Quality Food) certification to support expansion efforts into major US retailers. The improvements in food traceability were coupled with a review and workflow optimization of existing processes. The firm was able to secure over 50% of the contractor fees related to the audit, process review, certification, and implementation costs, to a total amount of approx. $140,000 over a 6 month period. The funding received subsidized these activities, allowing for allocation of cash toward additional improvements that ensured a timely expansion, while maintaining operating efficiencies and falling in line with food safety protocols.

Funding provided through Growing Forward 2 Ontario is allocated through two separate streams, Capacity Building and Project Implementation. It is usually advisable that a firm apply for the capacity building stream, before moving forward with a project implementation project.

The GF2 Ontario Capacity Building Stream is focused on helping food and food product processors investigate new processes and technology, or to develop new skills through training, assessments, and/or education to determine the potential effectiveness of a project.

  • Amount: Up to 50% of project costs. Cap on the funding from the program, over 5 years, is $350,000.
  • Timeline: Accepting applications on an on-going basis.
  • Eligibility: Projects must fit within one of the 6 focus areas of Growing Forward.

Example Projects: Strategic planning, audits or assessments, training or skills development. Businesses can utilize this program to have a food safety consultant assess their operations and required improvements and overhauls for reputable food safety standards.

The GF2 Ontario Project Implementation Stream of funding from the Growing Forward 2 program is focused on helping Ontario-based Processors, who have completed Capacity Building activities, address and resolve a risk or issue that was discovered in that process. Businesses which have not completed a Capacity Building project can still apply. However, applicants are encouraged to apply for Capacity Building prior to applying for the Project Implementation stream. This stream of funding could be utilized to implement new protocols, workflow processes, and equipment required to obtain necessary food safety or traceability systems. Many companies leverage this program to obtain necessary certifications to enter international markets.

  • Amount: 35% of project costs; up to 50% of project costs for innovative projects to a maximum of $350,000 over the 5-year term of the funding, including Capacity Building and Project Implementation activities.
  • Timeline: The remaining application intake period for the calendar year of 2014 is September 2, 2014 to December 11, 2014. Expenses can be made from April 1, 2014 onwards for up to 2 years.
  • Eligibility: Project must fit within one of the focus areas of the Growing Forward 2 Ontario program.

Growing Forward 2 focus areas:

o   Environment and Climate Change

o   Animal and Plant Health

o   Assurance Systems (Food Safety, Traceability and Animal Welfare)

o   Market Development

o   Labour Productivity Enhancements

o   Business and Leadership Development

For ongoing posts related to Growing Forward 2, visit http://www.mentorworks.ca/tag/growing-forward-2/.

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