Provided by: Angela Straathof, Program Director
Angela is the Programs Director for OSCIA and has been with the organization since October 2018. Angela has her PhD in soil chemistry and biology from the Department of Soil Quality at Wageningen in the Netherlands, ranked as the number one agricultural research university in the world. Angela was raised on a dairy farm in Eastern Ontario before studying Land Resource Management at the University of Guelph.
2022 marked a very productive year in program delivery for OSCIA. We are in an exciting period of transition, with some major programs positioned to change under a new policy framework, and other programs having come on with great success. The dedicated commitment of our field staff team, application and claim reviewers, and all OSCIA staff diligently advancing program development and reporting, and providing program participant support, should be commended!
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) is a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative to strengthen the agriculture, agri-food, and agri-based products sector and increase its competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability. As part of the Partnership, OSCIA offers three educational workshops to Ontario farmers: the Environmental Farm Plan (EFP), Growing Your Farm Profits (GYFP) and Biosecurity. In 2022, workshops were offered both in-person and online. Online delivery modes of the three workshop types are also available and received strong uptake in 2021: the electronic EFP is an online workbook recommended for users updating their 3rd or 4th edition EFPs; eGYFP is offered through University of Guelph Ridgetown Campus’s Business Development Centre’s website and administered by OMAFRA; Biosecurity webinars are offered for Livestock (beef, dairy, sheep and goat), Field Crops, Bees and Poultry. The final workshops supported by the Partnership will be offered in February 2023. Workshops will then transition to support under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership and resume in Spring 2023.
Canadian Agricultural Partnership Cost-Share Programming
OSCIA delivers Partnership cost-share funding programs to producers and associated other agri-business operations and beekeepers. The sixth intake of the Partnership opened on November 15 and closed on December 6, 2021. All applications were assessed for eligibility and selected to receive a cost-share allocation using a merit-based selection process. This intake resulted in 647 approved applications. This was the final intake of the Partnership program, apart from Targeted Intakes.
OSCIA has also been delivering Targeted Intakes to Support Managed Bee Health under the Partnership. The final intake for that program closed on October 31, 2022. Eligible beekeepers could apply for funding to support honeybee health management and business capacity advancements. While the most recent intake of this program was open from June 21, 2021, to October 31, 2022, 435 applications were approved for funding.
Lake Erie Agriculture Demonstrating Sustainability (LEADS) Funding Opportunities
LEADS is a cost-share funding program within the Partnership. LEADS supports the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) on farms within the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair watersheds for farmers who have completed a Farmland Health Check-Up (FHCU). The FHCU is an opportunity for farmers to work with a Certified Crop Advisor or Professional Agronomist to assess risks to on-farm soil health and water quality.
The fifth and final intake of the LEADS program occurred in November 2021 and 264 projects were approved for funding. Claim processing of those projects occurred throughout 2021 and was finalized in January 2023. The FHCU was available for farmers to participate in until February 2023.
Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Land (SARPAL)
Species at Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands (SARPAL) is an Environment and Climate Change Canada initiative that is focused on working with farmers to support the recovery of species at risk on agricultural land. SARPAL funds conservation actions currently focused on supporting 12 target Species at Risk. The SARPAL program opened an intake in spring 2022 that resulted in 75 projects receiving a funding allocation. The claim deadline for those projects was in December 2022. The next intake for the SARPAL program will be open March 1-8, 2023.
Species at Risk Farm Incentive Program (SARFIP)
SARFIP provides funding to agricultural landowners interested in completing habitat creation, enhancement, and protection BMPs that support species at risk. SARFIP is funded by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks through the Species at Risk Stewardship Program (SARSP). The SARPAL program opened an intake in spring 2022 that resulted in 127 projects receiving a funding allocation. The claim deadline for those projects was in December 2022. In 2022, OSCIA submitted a proposal to SARSP for SARFIP program continuation and OSCIA awaits an outcome of that proposal.
On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF)
On February 22, 2022, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada announced that OSCIA was successful in their bid to deliver OFCAF to Ontario farmers. OFCAF provides cost-share funding to farmers to support the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) that tackle climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and supporting increased carbon sequestration. Cost-share support (65%) to farmers is available under three project categories: in-field Nitrogen management, Cover cropping and Rotational grazing. OFCAF participants must demonstrate participation in an eligible Knowledge Sharing Event (KSE). A KSE is an event recognized by OSCIA (but not necessarily put on by OSCIA) which supports the learning and adoption of BMPs specific to addressing climate change challenges in Ontario. A KSE is both a learning and networking opportunity where farmers can benefit from seeing the latest applied research demonstrations, hearing first-hand experiences from other farmers and industry experts, and gaining access to information networks and resources. The first OFCAF intake was open Aug 3-17, 2022, and resulted in over 1000 approved projects to support practice implementation on new acres. The second OFCAF intake ran Jan 4-18, 2023, to support projects for implementation in the 2023 growing season.
On-Farm Applied Research and Monitoring
The ONFARM program is a four-year, applied research initiative that began in 2019 which supports soil health and water quality research on farms across Ontario. This program is funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year federal-provincial-territorial initiative. In 2022, ONFARM conducted its third field season monitoring the 25 paired-trial sites where BMPs are implemented in test plots, and soil health and agronomic indicators are measured throughout the season by the Soil Resource Group consultancy. Water quality and quantity measurements continued to be logged from surface water at eight different edge-of-field sites, in partnership with five participating Conservation Authorities. The results of this monitoring will inform a model being developed by Dr Wanhong Yang at the University of Guelph. ONFARM hosted several well-attended demonstration days, and has produced many factsheets and resources profiling the cooperators and the indicators measured, which can be found at www.osciaresearch.org/onfarm-applied-research. The ONFARM Research Forum will be hosted on February 9, 2023.
Nature Smart Climate Readiness Program
In 2022, Environment and Climate Change Canada confirmed that OSCIA was a successful applicant in a bid to deliver federal Nature Smart Climate Solutions funding via a competitive bid framework. The program, which is currently under development by OSCIA, is called the Nature Smart Climate Readiness Program. This program will support Ontario farmers initiating or continuing habitat conservation or restoration on grassland, wetland or riparian ecosystems within their farm boundaries. Along with tendered bids, programming applications will be scored using an expert-commissioned Environment Benefit Index to maximize environmental impact, with the primary objectives being carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emission reduction from the eligible landscape. This program will run from 2023 until March 2026. More updates will be provided on the OSCIA website as program development progresses and a 2023 application intake is announced.