Agriculture gets a boost in Northern Ontario as province announces $6 million in funding


Northern Ontario farmers could enjoy a “huge economic boom” following an influx of funds from provincial coffers.

Michel Champagne, general manager of the West Nipissing East Sudbury Agricultural Support Projects Group, said Sunday’s announcement of $600,000 as part of a larger $6 million investment through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) will help implement tile drainage projects on local farms.

At the Royal Agricultural Fair, the province announced that 17 projects would receive funding through the NOHFC with the aim of improving crop yields and stimulating economic development in the region.

Although tile drainage is a relatively new approach to farming in the North, proponents say it has already extended the growing season by weeks.

“Because of climate change, we have more weather events where there’s a lot of water that can drown a lot of crops,” Champagne said.

“Tile drainage removes water quickly,” so [farmers] can arrive in the fields much earlier in the spring, and they can harvest later in the fall. »

“It extends the season considerably.”

So far, tile drainage has been used by a handful of northern growers, Champagne said, with some success.

“Now we can grow soybeans. Now you can grow corn,” Champagne said. “And we’re setting unprecedented records in the province with subsurface drainage.”

Champagne said farmers also want to try different types of crops, with the assurance that they will have more time to grow and harvest. He estimated that the yields themselves increased between 30 and 40%.

Erin Rowe (left), co-owner of Truly Northern Farms with Stephane Lanteigne, says demand for space at the Sudbury Farmers’ Market has almost quadrupled this year. (Instagram: @trulynorthernfarms)

“We didn’t have elevators at Verner before and now they just can’t grow fast enough to accommodate the increased production,” Champagne said.

“There are farmers who are building their own on-farm grain stores. It’s been a tremendous economic boom for the farming community.”

“And it’s a win-win in every way and the economic fallout from that is just huge,” he said.

Farm groups receiving funds

The Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance and Cochrane’s Northeast Community Network also received funding from the NOHFC to install tile drainage in their operations, while Inglis Farm Drainage received a $187,000 boost to help get started. his underground drainage business in Earlton.

Yves Gauthier, president of the Northern Ontario Farm Innovation Alliance, said the investment will also increase the number of acres devoted to agricultural development in the province.

“The impact of underground drainage is not only reflected in the increased production of cash crops, but also in the development of spin-off industries such as grain transportation and storage,” said Gauthier.

Mark Gregorini, owner of Aniko Pasta Artigianale in Sudbury, will also be the recipient of NOHFC funding. The handmade pasta producer will receive $299,192 to renovate its factory and purchase equipment.

“Aniko Pasta Artigianale was born out of the grassroots food movement, with a mission to make and distribute artisan pasta made with ingredients from Northern Ontario,” said Gregorini.

“This new business will provide employment opportunities in Sudbury and support area farmers and producers, doing its part to strengthen the local food system.

cbc

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