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Canadian cannabis farms eligible for federal funding via CA$3.5B program

((This is the latest installment in a series about government funding available for Canadian cannabis businesses. The previous installment is available here.)

Canadian cannabis growers and processors are eligible to apply for funding under the new 3.5 billion Canadian dollar ($2.6 billion) Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership program if certain conditions are met, the administrator of the initiative, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, told MJBizDaily.

Any prospective sources of new funding would be welcome news for Canada’s smaller cannabis growers and processors, many of which are struggling under persistent deflationary and ultracompetitive pressures, plus tight funding from private-sector lenders.

Financing from the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) program is in addition to other sources of federal funding, which Canadian cannabis companies have already been tapping, including:

  • The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), a federal innovation assistance program for small and medium-sized businesses.
  • The National Research Council Canada (NRC), the nation’s primary research agency, which helps small and medium-sized businesses.
  • Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentives, a federal program focused on boosting research and development.

The Sustainable CAP program is a joint federal-provincial initiative under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the department of the government responsible for agriculture.

Cannabis Council of Canada CEO George Smitherman told MJBizDaily it’s a great step that marijuana companies are eligible for the programs.

“It is a key adjustment in the openness of the agriculture (department) to recognize that cannabis is a value-added agricultural commodity,” Smitherman said via email.

The Cannabis Council of Canada is the national industry group representing the interests of dozens of the nation’s licensed producers and processors.

The Sustainable CAP program, which replaced the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) earlier this year, runs from April 1, 2023, to March 31, 2028.

It includes CA$1 billion in programs and activities directly administered by the federal government and another CA$2.5 billion commitment for programs that are cost-shared and managed by provinces and territories.

So far, there have not been any projects with cannabis companies under federal programs of the Sustainable CAP.

One of the federal Sustainable CAP programs cannabis-related businesses might be eligible for is the AgriAssurance Program.

That program has two components: the National Industry Association (NIA) and the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME).

A spokesperson for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada said that the NIA component funds projects at the national level to help industry develop and adopt systems, standards and tools to support health and safety claims about Canadian agricultural and agri-food products.

The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise component aims to support for-profit SMEs to help implement assurance projects that address market and regulatory requirements.

“Cannabis operations would be eligible to apply for funding under both the AgriInnovate Program and AgriScience Program,” the spokesperson said, “provided the proposal fits within the objective of the program, they are licensed establishments and their activity is aligned with their Health Canada license.”

Applications to Sustainable CAP programs are assessed on a case-by-case basis and judged according to the respective program’s funding criteria.

The spokesperson said applicants must already have any required licenses.

To be eligible, businesses should also be in compliance with legislation and regulations, including the federal Cannabis Act as well as provincial laws and regulations.

MJBizDaily has inquired with provincial governments about the eligibility criteria for cannabis companies.

The first of those stories is available here.

Matt Lamers can be reached at

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