GUELPH – A new online service is available to help farmers find processing space at Ontario abattoirs.
AgSights, a non-profit established as Beef Improvement Ontario in 1993, and Meat and Poultry Ontario, an industry group representing Ontario meat producers, has launched “Processor Links” — an online tool making it easier for farmers to connect with abattoirs which can accomodate last minute demands, or are accepting future bookings.
The online tool is part of a project funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership as a way to help find a solution for both farmers and processors as labour shortages challenge many abattoirs across Ontario.
With a lack of staff, processing days are cancelled, and farmers are left upset.
“Most of Ontario’s provincially licensed abattoirs are small, family-run businesses and cancelling processing days causes a great deal of stress and pressure for them too, not just farmers,” said Meat and Poultry Ontario executive director Franco Naccarato, in a press release.
“Our goal with this project is to provide information to farmers, including summary of current booking lead times, contact information for provincially licensed facilities, and what species they’re able to process,” he added.
Farmers looking for help finding processing options, or processing plants wishing to be added to the online dashboard can fill out a form on the AgSights website (agsights.com).
Ultimately, the goal is to build an online platform for booking automation, in turn decreasing workloads for abattoirs and making it easier for farmers to find and make appointments.
“We encourage custom processors across Ontario to participate in the dashboard so that we can offer a tool that is as robust and useful as possible to everyone involved,” said AgSights general manager Betty-Jo Almond. “More information means greater transparency and that helps both farmers and processors with their planning and management of their operations,” she said.
The project began with an information gathering process involving farmers and abattoirs helping to understand the challenges faced in the current tight labour environment and what tools could help address the situation.
Meat processors have long struggled with labour shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to increased custom processing demand as more people began purchasing meat directly from producers or raising their own backyard flocks and small livestock.
The processing availability dashboard and online sign-up forms are available at agsights.com/what-is-processor-links/abattoir-booking.