Ontario beef farmers applaud funding for processing facilities

GUELPH – The Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) are pleased with the $12.2 million in financial support committed through the federal Emergency Processing Fund to help 42 meat processing facilities in Ontario cope with the impact of COVID-19 on Ontario’s food system.

The program was announced April 7 by Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau.

Funding, as noted by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will be used by recipients to adopt measures to help keep employees safe and increase their capacity. This includes making adjustments to enable social distancing, purchasing reusable personal protective equipment, implementing biosecurity measures, installing protective barriers and developing employee training. Funds are also supporting facility upgrades and new equipment to help boost production capacity.

“On behalf of the province’s beef farmers, we are grateful for the federal government’s support for Ontario’s processing sector, which is an integral component of the beef supply chain and Ontario’s food system,” said BFO president Rob Lipsett. “Ensuring plant workers can continue to work safely throughout the pandemic remains our priority and this funding will help ensure this,” he added.

BFO continues to call on federal and provincial governments to commit further investments in the beef processing sector through a combination of matching funding, no-interest and non-repayable loans to assist with COVID-19 mitigation and prevention, export diversification, market access and capitals investments. Investment in the sector would expand production, increase market penetration of beef products at home and abroad, improve technologies and increase efficiencies. Critical labour shortages in the processing sector must also be addressed through skills training and education, and recruitment and retention strategies both domestic and foreign, the organization states.

“Additional funding to improve processing capacity in the province will have far-reaching benefits for our farmers, processors, Ontarians and our economy. Locally raised and processed beef is in high demand but bottlenecks in our supply chain due to processing capacity issues are preventing our industry from contributing to economic growth in the province,” said Lipsett.