Wilkinson: Province offers cash support for local abatoirs

Through sup­port from the Rural Economic Development Program, the Ontario Ministry of Agricul­ture, Food and Rural Affairs will provide up to $1.5-million to help small and medium-sized rural abattoirs and meat plants increase their businesses and access new markets, Perth-Wellington MPP John Wil­kinson announced last week.


“In order to meet increasing demand and support local farmers, Ontario is helping small and medium-sized rural abattoirs and meat plants grow their businesses and access new markets,” said Wilkinson.  “By investing in local foods, we are creating new local jobs and helping to build a brighter future for our rural commu­nities.”

A strong agri-food industry is part of the Open Ontario plan to create jobs and opportunities that will boost the province’s economy.

Ontario’s food processing industry was the third largest employer of its kind in North America in 2008. The industry generated $32.3-billion in reve­nue from goods manufactured in Ontario in 2007. Since 2003, Ontario has spent nearly $104-million in 285 projects through the Rural Economic Develop­ment program and generated more than $781-million in new economic activity.

Currently, the province is home to 3,500 food processors that contribute more than $32.5-billion to the economy and employ almost 120,000 peo­ple.

“Congratulations to the pro­vincial government for provid­ing this funding for our local abattoirs,” said Bert Vorsten­bosch, President of the Perth County Federation of Agricul­ture. “They are in des­perate need of support and getting them going again will create new employment and ensure fresh, local, healthy food.”

“On behalf of the Welling­ton Federation of Agriculture, I was pleased to hear of the province’s commitment to agriculture through this assis­tance to local abattoirs,” said David Parker, president of WFA.

“The local abattoir has traditionally provided a vital link between the consumer who wanted to purchase excellent locally grown and processed meats from farmers who prided themselves in raising the best livestock. The closure of the many estab­lishments through­out the countryside meant a large economic strain to the farm community, a loss of jobs to many who worked in each facility, and an increased use of fossil fuels to transport live­stock sometimes hundreds of kilo­meters to reach an aba­ttoir.”

Parker added, “It is hoped that this signals an end to this downward shift in abattoir numbers, and that the rural landscape will soon see more emerge in order to look after the needs of the local con­sumers who were pleased to support local agriculture. We ap­plaud our provincial govern­ment and hope that this indi­cates an increased commitment to our local agricultural infra­structure.”