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.”