Local Food Fund Forgotten?

QUEEN’S PARK – Today during a statement in the Legislature, Ernie Hardeman, Oxford MPP and PC Critic for Agriculture and Food, raised concerns that, 126 days after applications were submitted, the Local Food Fund appears to have been forgotten or has been caught up in politics.

“This government has held many photo-ops to talk about the Local Food Fund, but when the cameras turned off they seem to have simply forgotten about it,” said Hardeman. “These applications were submitted before it started to snow- we all know how long ago that was – and yet they still haven’t received an answer.”

The first application period for the Local Food Fund ended on October 31, 2013. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is now in the fourth application period (March 1-April 30) despite the fact the first round to applications have not yet received a response.

“Farmers have been told that the Local Food Fund applications are stuck on the Premier’s desk because as a part-time Minister she simply doesn’t have time to deal with them,” said Hardeman. “There is speculation that the Premier is holding off on allocating the funds so that she can use these announcements as pre-election photo-ops. I hope that neither of those things is true.”

During the statement Hardeman pointed out that is has been 126 days – more than four months – since the applications were submitted. The Local Food Fund program guidelines state that applications may take up to 45 days to review. Applications are reviewed by the Rural Economic Development Advisory Board which recommends projects to the Minister for approval.

“Today I am asking the Premier to take the time to focus on our agriculture and food sector, respond to the applications and prove that she wasn’t playing political games at the expense of rural Ontario by committing not to use these announcements for photo-ops,” said Hardeman.

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For more information, contact:
Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford
(416) 325-1239