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Ontario OFCAF projects cover more than 130,000 acres

August 9, 2023  By Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association

The Ontario On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) has supported projects on more than 130,000 acres of farmland since launching in 2022. OFCAF provides cost-share funding to farmers to support the implementation of best management practices (BMPs) that tackle climate change through reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and supporting increased carbon sequestration. This competitive program allocated more than $22 million in cost-share funding to successful applications during the 2022 and 2023 intake periods.

“We are pleased to share the success of the program thus far, which has involved supporting projects by farmers who want to invest in soil health to improve long-term productivity, profitability and sustainability,” says Steve Sickle, Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA) president, in a press release. “The strong demand for funding is evidence that Ontario farmers are motivated to contribute to climate change mitigation to help Canada meet national greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and protect the environment.”

The program was popular with farmers across Ontario; OSCIA received more than 2,700 applications to OFCAF. Funding was available to farmers under the categories of nitrogen management, cover cropping and rotational grazing, and supports those activities when they are new to the acres they were practiced on.

Projects focused on nitrogen management, including nitrogen management planning, equipment for improved application and the use of urease and nitrification inhibitors, have been implemented on more than 86,000 acres. Projects to plant cover crops and intercrop have been implemented on more than 50,000 acres, and intensive, short-duration rotational grazing projects represent more than 5,500 acres. The implementation of on-farm projects will continue through 2023.

“As leaders in their industry, Ontario producers are embracing the proactive actions recommended by OFCAF to mitigate the effects of climate change on the environment and their operations,” says Marie-Claude Bibeau, former federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, in a press release. “The success of OFCAF’s projects demonstrates that, together, producers are preparing for climate change resiliency while building a sustainable, competitive agriculture sector.”

Since peer-to-peer learning and access to expert advice play a key role in farmers’ long-term adoption of new practices, OFCAF pairs cost-share support with participation in knowledge sharing events (KSEs). All successful applicants attend a KSE – such as a field demonstration, workshop or conference seminar – specific to addressing climate change challenges. Since 2022, in-person and online KSEs have been hosted by more than 30 different agricultural organizations, including OSCIA. These events will continue throughout 2023 to enable knowledge-sharing beyond farmers who received direct program funding.

In Ontario, OFCAF is delivered to farmers by OSCIA with funding provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The fund is part of the Government of Canada’s Agricultural Climate Solutions Initiative.

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