Excellence in Agriculture - 2019 Program Guidebook

Table of Contents


The agri-food sector has always been innovative in running their businesses, adapting practices and looking for partners to compete in the global economy.

To help spur this innovative spirit, the Ontario government created the Excellence in Agriculture program. This program recognizes outstanding agri-food related innovators.

This awards program is not intended for the research community.

Program awards include:

  • Five top awards
  • Up to fifteen honorable mentions

Award recipients will also receive use of the Excellence in Agriculture wordmark to support their marketing efforts.

Deadline: October 11, 2019 is the due date for completed applications. Electronic applications must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. and hard copy applications must be postmarked by the deadline date to be accepted.


The objectives of the Excellence in Agriculture program are to:

  • recognize and encourage innovators in the agri-food sector
  • foster innovation in the agri-food sector that has an effect at the farm level
  • raise awareness about the importance of agri-food innovation and its impact on the Ontario economy

Eligibility Criteria

You are eligible to apply under the program if you are:

a) Primary Producer/Farmer

  • must be a resident of Ontario
  • must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada

Any one of the following four options will be acceptable for applying to the Excellence in Agriculture program:

  1. Provide a valid 2019 Farm Business Registration Number (FBRN).
  2. Provide a copy of your 2019 Income Exemption Confirmation letter from the Farm Property Class Tax Rate Program.
  3. Beginning farmers and those who actively farmed in 2019 can provide a copy of the Property Assessment Notice from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC - 2018) confirming the property is classified as "Farm" (eligible for the Farm Property Class tax rate), or a copy of the municipal tax bill declaring the property as "Farm Taxable (FT)".
  4. If a farm business chooses not to have a FBRN for cultural or religious reasons, they must provide the following:
    a. Religious Reasons - a copy of the Religious Exemption Letter as provided by Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal (AFRAAT).
    b. Cultural Reasons - First Nations producers may provide a letter from the Indian Agriculture Program of Ontario (IAPO) verifying the farm business operates in the First Nations Community.

b. Processor

  • must be a Canadian owned company with less than 100 annual full-time salaried and non-salaried employees in total
  • a minimum of 50 per cent of the food ingredients used in the Ontario-based manufacturing facility must be sourced from Ontario growers/producers
  • primary processing facilities must be in Ontario.

c. Agri-Food Organization

  • must be Ontario based with a direct relationship / mandate to the agri-food sector.

d. Agri-Food Innovator

  • Must demonstrate a direct relationship to the agri-food sector
  • Primary location must be in Ontario
  • Must be a resident of Ontario
  • Must have less than 100 annual full- time salaried and non-salaried employees in total

e. Youth

  • Must be under 29
  • Must demonstrate a direct relationship to the agri-food sector
  • Primary location must be in Ontario
  • Must be a resident of Ontario

Applicants must be in compliance with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal legislation that apply to the operation of the innovation.

You are ineligible to apply for the program if you are:

  • employee of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
  • a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and any combination of agri-food business or agri-food related organization in which individuals employed with OMAFRA, are owners of, members of or have a controlling and/or financial interest in


Only one application per applicant can be submitted in any one year.

Applicants must be willing to participate in interviews, site visits, photographs and video recordings at the discretion of the ministry or selection committees.

The ministry has the right to refuse an application where concerns have been identified with respect to compliance with regulatory legislation and requirements, undue influence and/or misleading and inaccurate information.

Innovation areas may include:

Examples of innovation areas include but are not limited to:

  • improved business practices
  • response to consumer demands (e.g. new production and processing methods, product development)
  • response to expanding consumer tastes (e.g. locally-grown and produced world foods)
  • collaborations (strategic alliances, cross-sector partnerships)
  • environmental stewardship
  • energy and bio-economy
  • health and safety
  • food safety and traceability
  • education and marketing of the agriculture and food industry to society

Application Process

Primary producers, processors, agri-food organizations, agri-food innovators and youth interested in participating must complete and submit an application either electronically or hard copy by 11:59 p.m. on October 11, 2019. The application can be accessed from: www.ontario.ca/agrifoodinnovation

Please refer to the last page of the Application Form for options to submit your completed application.

Please ensure that your application includes complete answers to all questions in the application form.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to include five jpeg photos supporting the innovation in electronic format, if available. Print copies will, however, be accepted.

Letters of support are encouraged.

Selection Process

The following process will be used to select the Excellence in Agriculture award recipients:

  • Applications will be received at OMAFRA
  • An acknowledgement email will be sent to each applicant
  • Applications will be reviewed for eligibility and prepared for consideration by review panel(s)
  • The review panel(s) will evaluate all applications and make award recommendations on the top applications to the Deputy Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
  • The Minister will review the recommended applications and select the 2019 top awards and honorable mentions.

Assessment Criteria

The following criteria will be used to assess applications:

  • Impact or Benefit - Refers to the economic and/or social benefit to Ontario's agri-food sector resulting from the innovation.
  • Uniqueness and Originality - Refers to historical information of where the innovation originated and the uniqueness of design or style utilized to produce the innovation.
  • Development - Refers to the extent to which the idea or concept has been thought through to completion. Consideration may be given to the stage of development i.e. emerging through to mature.
  • Operational Benefits - The innovation must have been developed or be in development and currently be in use or have a future use in the agri-food sector.
  • Adoption and/or Commercialization - Refers to the degree of success (or potential for success) of adoption by other agri-food businesses or the commercialization and marketing of the innovation.
  • Broader Use - The innovation must have potential for use on a broader basis and be able to demonstrate the potential for having a positive effect on the agricultural industry.

For further information, contact:

Agricultural Information Contact Center

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca