Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Small meat packers need more funding

The province’s $4.1 million to help small-scale slaughter and meat-processing plants expand and modernize has been snapped up in little more than a week, pointing to a need for more money.

Franco Neccarato, executive director of Meat and Poultry Ontario, said he’s not surprised that businesses were quick to apply and the money is all spoken for. It’s usually what happens when there is a short window of opportunity, he said.

But he praised the province for engaging with the industry and providing more than $8 million last year.

Meat and Poultry Ontario is in the midst of consulting with its members, farmers and governments at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to guage market requirements and make plans, he said.

Ontario could emerge as a world leader out of this process, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic helped to reveal the need for local meat and poultry plants, he said, and now everyone involved is coming together to discuss how to proceed.

Ontario's hog industry has been short of slaughter capacity for at least a decade and the beef industry has been significantly short since Ryding Regency in Toronto was closed in 2019 by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for failure to comply with food safety standards.

That plant has recently been re-opened by a beef-farming family.