$40 million for food, farming, and forestry innovation

Today, Government of Alberta’s Minister of Environment and Parks, Jason Nixon, announced Emissions Reduction Alberta’s (ERA) $40 million Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge. This funding opportunity will accelerate technology innovation in support of long-term competitiveness and stimulate growth in the critically important agriculture, agri-food, and forestry sectors. It provides near-term capital to innovators, while also identifying opportunities and solutions for longer term economic recovery, investment attraction, and job creation.

Alberta’s agricultural and forestry sectors are an important part of the economy. The province produces over 40 per cent of Canada’s total cattle inventory, 33 per cent of the country’s wheat, 32 per cent of its canola, and half of its barley. In 2018, the agriculture and forestry sectors employed over 100,000 Albertans. The Province’s agri-food exports reached a record $11.6 billion, an increase of three per cent from 2017 and forest products exports reached $4.2 billion, up 20 per cent from the previous year.

These sectors also represent a significant opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2017, Alberta emitted over 43 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent from agricultural, agri-food, and forestry operations combined. This represents over 28 per cent of Canada’s total emissions from these sectors.

This $40 million will assist farmers, ranchers, industry, innovators, and more as they work to ensure sustainable food and fibre supplies and navigate the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will lead to lower costs in the production and processing of food and fibre, leverage nature-based solutions and other activities that sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and more.

ERA will fund up to $5 million per project and up to 50 per cent of total project costs. Funding is being sourced from the carbon price paid by Large Final Emitters (LFE’s) in Alberta through the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. These investments can be used to strengthen existing industries and support projects from small and medium enterprises in these sectors. The application deadline is August 27, 2020 at 5 p.m. Mountain Time.

“Our government is proud to fund the Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge. This is a strong example of how Alberta is thoughtfully advancing creative solutions to achieve both emissions reductions and greater economic and environmental resilience. Alberta has shown significant leadership in emissions reduction via enhancing agricultural and forestry practices and we look forward to continuing on this path through further market-based opportunities.”

Jason Nixon, Minister, Environment and Parks, Government of Alberta

“Our foresters, farmers, and ranchers have always been innovative in order to compete around the world. Investing in additional technological advancements will help them continue to grow and create more jobs in Alberta’s largest natural resource sectors.”

Devin Dreeshen, Minister,  Agriculture and Forestry, Government of Alberta

“Our mandate at ERA is to improve the cost and carbon competitiveness of all sectors. At this time of global uncertainty, we are taking bold action to accelerate technology-led innovation that ensures these key industries can grow sustainably.”

Steve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta

“ERA’s funding support is essential in allowing companies like Al-Pac to de-risk complex projects. These innovative projects will make our companies more financially viable, reduce emissions, all the while bettering the environment for Albertans. There are a lot of great ideas out there, and without the support of ERA, they may not be realized.”

Daryl Nichol, Pulp Mill Manager, Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc.

“Now more than ever, we need to take action to ensure a sustainable future for the 70 communities and thousands of Albertans who depend on forestry. Innovation is a key part of preparing for our future. This program will help support forestry jobs throughout Alberta.”

Fred Dzida, Chair, Alberta Forest Products Association

“Investments in innovation play an important part in the continuation of stable, sustainable food production in Canada. The Food, Farming, and Forestry Challenge is a positive step in supporting the long-term competitiveness of Alberta’s beef producers, while helping ensure Canadians have continued access to high-quality and nutritious products.”

Bob Lowe, President, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association 

“We need fresh ideas to support the increased economic contributions of Alberta’s food and beverage processing industry to help further diversity the Alberta economy. This funding opportunity helps address urgent needs in response to recent health and economic disruptions, it also helps build a long-term competitive advantage of Alberta’s food and beverage industry in the global market.”

Melody Pashko, General Manager, Alberta Food Processors Association 

ERA worked with leaders in agriculture, agri-food, and forestry to design this funding challenge. Ideas for innovation included creating value from agricultural and forest waste, nutrient management, automation and digitization of operations, genomics, applications of alternative energy, zero carbon seeding, monitoring and detection technologies, nature based-solutions, and more.

Proposals may be submitted by farmers, ranchers, innovators, technology developers, Indigenous communities, industry, industrial associations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), research and development (R&D) organizations, universities, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, government research labs, and individuals. Partnerships and collaborations between multiple organizations are encouraged.

ERA’s Food, Farming and Forestry Challenge is well-aligned with current and future funding programs through the Agriculture Funding Consortium (AFC) and the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN). ERA will work with AFC, CAAIN, and other related programs to explore co-funding opportunities and reduce the administrative burden for applicants. ERA will also work to align with the research priorities and project opportunities identified by the new Results Driven Agricultural Research (RDAR) initiative.

Steve MacDonald, ERA’s CEO, and Mark Summers, ERA’s Executive Director of Technology and Innovation, will host an informational webinar on Monday, June 29 at 1 p.m. (MT). They will provide an overview of the funding opportunity, including scope and eligibility of the call, the submission process, and timelines for decisions. Participants will have the chance to ask specific questions to help prepare an application.

For more information contact:

Emissions Reduction Alberta
Kevin Duncan
Cell: 403.431.2859


For more than 10 years, ERA has been investing the revenues from the carbon price paid by large final emitters to accelerate the development and adoption of innovative clean technology solutions. Since we were established in 2009, we have committed $534 million toward 161 projects worth $4 billion that are helping to reduce GHGs, create competitive industries and are leading to new business opportunities in Alberta. These projects are estimated to deliver cumulative reductions of 32.9 million tonnes of CO₂e by 2030.