The National Farmers Union – Ontario (NFU-O) commends the announcement by the provincial government of a two-year $25 million Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund. “We are encouraged about what this could mean for farmers and food processors in Ontario, and are hopeful that this could bring some much-needed capacity to existing and new provincial abattoir facilities”, NFU-O President, Don Ciparis, stated.
“The timing of this investment in Ontario could not be better. The pandemic and current supply chain interruptions have exposed the vulnerability of our food and trading system”, added Ciparis.
Farmers and eaters witnessed uncertainty among Ontario’s livestock meat processing industry throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Abattoirs in Ontario have been on a steady decline over the past two decades, being replaced by larger plants and off-shore processing facilities. This has subsequently overwhelmed remaining abattoirs that now face a surge of livestock and leaves farmers backlogged with livestock and nowhere to go.
“This strain is felt even more in Eastern and Northern Ontario, where farmers need to drive two hours or more to have their animals processed, and book animals a year in advance. I am pleased to see a designated portion of the funding to support processing in northern and rural Ontario”, Hilary Moore, Chair of the NFU-O Abattoir Working Group added. “This will help abattoirs to hire and train more staff and support capital investments in more and new equipment, allowing these small businesses to increase their kill and processing capacity, which will in turn allow livestock farmers to meet the increasing demand for locally raised meats.”
“Investment in Ontario’s farmers and food producers is always a step in the right direction, as we continue to see increasing levels of food imports and decreasing levels of food processing in Ontario, at a time when interest and demand in local food is at its highest”, Ciparis noted. “The NFU-O looks forward to providing input and feedback on the design and implementation of this funding program.”
– For more information –
Don Ciparis, President, National Farmers Union–Ontario [email protected], (519) 785-0001