CHRISTA ROETTELE, Communications Branch, OMAFRA
Canada and Ontario’s governments are expanding Ontario’s meat processing sector by investing $127,000 to support a research initiative by Meat and Poultry Ontario (MPO). The project will identify opportunities to increase meat processing capacity to address a growing demand for abattoir services across the province.
“Despite challenges caused by COVID-19, the hardworking women and men in Canada’s meat and poultry processing sector have stepped up to deliver their quality products to Canadian kitchen tables,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “The investments announced today will provide these businesses the tools they need to continue delivering for Canadians and prepare for growth in this valued industry.”
“Ontario’s meat processing sector is an important contributor to Ontario’s economy,” stated Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, during an address to the annual general meeting of the Beef Farmers of Ontario. “Today’s announcement is part of our government’s plan to support projects that increase processing capacity and help our local meat sector continue to grow.”
The demand for processing facilities in Ontario, especially in the North, continues to grow. In response, MPO has begun researching a strategy that pairs skills development with innovative technologies to increase efficiency and capacity across the sector. This work builds on three additional federal-provincial funding programs introduced over the last year to deal with more urgent challenges:
• $2 million for food safety initiatives • $2.25 million for provincial meat plants to make workplace modifications to increase worker health and safety during COVID • $4 million for rapid measures to increase capacity
“Innovation is key to Canada’s agricultural sector. The investment announced today will support Ontario’s meat processors in keeping their businesses on the cutting edge,” said Neil Ellis, Parliamentary Secretary to the federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “This funding will ensure a stable meat supply and keep high-quality and affordable Canadian meat products on our grocery store shelves and kitchen tables.”
“The pandemic has highlighted some of the vulnerabilities in the meat & poultry sector. One of them being the need to increase processing capacity,” says Carol Goriup, President of Meat & Poultry Ontario. “This study is the first step in identifying opportunities and possible solutions for the future growth of our sector. We would like to thank the federal and provincial governments for their timely funding of this project.”
Provincial abattoirs and provincially licensed processors have been consulted to understand the current state of their operations. The potential for growth and the technology requirements to support that growth. MPO will also work with farmers to understand both current and future needs for processing and packaging and how their needs differ based on where they are in the province. The data will be collected and analyzed to create a potential centralized reservation system of processing that could be developed in the future.
Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed cost-share support for more than 4,400 projects through the Partnership. These will help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.