April 2023
Like many of our farming partners, we enthusiastically welcome Spring—traditionally a time of optimism and hope for the new planting season. The AAC board and staff have been working hard on several projects and initiatives that will make 2023 an exciting year for the organization.  
The new Supply Chain Stability and Adaptability program, announced last December, generated tremendous interest, with nearly 350 applications from across Ontario’s Ag and Food Value Chain. This merit-based program being delivered by the AAC on behalf of OMAFRA will invest close to $10 Million to fund innovative strategies to identify risks and strengthen the supply chains that keep the Province’s agri-businesses strong and healthy. Project funding announcements are expected shortly.  
Over the past few months, AAC has wrapped up the delivery of the Livestock Veterinary Innovation Initiative (LVII), Greenhouse Competitiveness Innovation Initiative (GCII) and Ontario Agri-Careers Support Initiative (OACSI). Success stories from the GCII program in particular were widely covered in both local and international horticultural media. Links to these articles are included in this issue. 
In March, we launched a strategy to communicate some of the key findings and lessons learned from OACSI. A digital toolkit has been developed to share resources with the Ontario agri-food processing sector on best practices in recruiting, retaining and supporting our industry’s talent. Additionally, the AAC convened a series of themed, livestream panel events featuring project participants and industry experts to further explore human resources challenges and opportunities faced by Ontario’s food processors, which are also available to view on the AAC website. 
Our team is preparing to conduct a second round of industry consultations to enhance future program design and delivery. Building on the findings of the first phase, the next round will look more specifically at program delivery mechanics. We are keen to involve our partners and key industry stakeholders in conversations that will hone our program planning and delivery acumen, maintaining the AAC’s reputation as a preferred and trusted program delivery partner. If you are interested in being part of this process, please reach out to our Communications and Industry Relations Manager, Peter Katona
On March 22, we hosted another installment of our Lunch ‘n Learn series for the AAC membership. Nim Nadarajah of the firm Critical Matrix provided an excellent overview of cyber security risks facing our agri-food industry along with tips and resources to guard against hacks and other threats. This series provides an added value for AAC membership as we address current themes and issues identified by our industry associations. 
On behalf of the AAC board and staff, we wish you the best this upcoming growing season and we look forward to connecting with many of you over the months to come. 
Melanie DiReto 
Executive Director, AAC 
In 2022, The Livestock Veterinary Innovation Initiative (LVII) was launched to improve and expand veterinary care options for livestock farmers, particularly those in rural and remote parts of Ontario. The AAC administered this 6-month program that delivered cost-shared funding to veterinarian practices to address identified industry challenges, especially those posed by the long distances between many farmers and veterinary clinics.

Program delivery wrapped up in March 2023, but has already paid dividends for participating vets and their clients-especially in Northern Ontario. Many projects funded technology improvements for remote veterinary care including on-farm digital radiographs, mobile x-ray and ultrasound diagnostic equipment. 

Feedback from project applicants was overwhelmingly positive with both the level of financial support and the overall satisfaction with program delivery including communications, application support and the claims process. Project applicants noted how these technology and equipment upgrades will enhance services and reduce wait times for their clients immediately.

Phase two of the Greenhouse Competitiveness and Innovation Initiative (GCII) was launched in 2020, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. The program, which was delivered by the AAC, was designed to help maintain the competitiveness of the Ontario greenhouse sector in global markets and to support the industry in developing and adopting innovative technology to encourage further investment and growth.

Eligible project activities included production enhancement strategies to expand and diversify markets, efforts to mitigate production risks, and collaborations to enhance industry planning and the development of sector standards. Through this merit-based initiative, $3.6M in funding was approved for 12 organizations and partnerships, supporting projects aiming to advance the sector as a whole.

The program concluded in March of 2023. A key component of AAC's program delivery strategy was to document highlights from successful GCII projects. These findings have been shared with the broader industry to help promote knowledge transfer-particularly the use of adaptive technologies and other productivity enhancements relevant to Ontario's commercial greenhouses. This Spring, AAC commissioned a series of news articles that were released to agricultural and horticultural media in Ontario and abroad. Two of these success stories, featuring significant program findings are featured below.

Leamington Ontario-based greenhouse grower, Under Sun Acres, has successfully applied a more sustainable method to cool water used to irrigate greenhouse vegetable crops - improving both plant health and fruit quality in the process. Working with researchers from the University of Windsor, the company has identified that water from a greenhouse’s storm water management pond can be used to bring water to the optimal temperature to irrigate greenhouse crops, as opposed to using an electric or gas-powered cooling unit.


High humidity is a by-product of greenhouse growing. Left uncontrolled, humid air can reduce crop growth and result in poor quality produce. Growers have traditionally resorted to open ventilation to manage the issue. While effective, this strategy also causes heat loss which can increase a farm’s annual energy costs. Flowers Canada (Ontario) set about to find a solution to this challenge using funding from the CGII program to compare the efficacy of four dehumidification process, track their impact on energy costs and also explored optimal ways to integrate them into existing greenhouse control systems.