For release: June 16, 2004
Ontario Government Invests in Livestock Industry
Increased abattoir capacity to yield long-term benefits
TORONTO - The Ontario government is helping Ontario's livestock
industry deal with the continuing effects of BSE by investing in increased
abattoir capacity for older animals, Minister of Agriculture and Food
Steve Peters announced today.
"Our government is committed to a strong agri-food industry in Ontario,"
said Peters. "This investment will help producers in the short-term
by making it possible to handle more of their surplus mature animals,
and in the long-term, by building much-needed capacity in Ontario's meat
Speaking at a barbecue hosted by the Ontario Cattlemen's Association,
the Ontario Sheep Marketing Association, and the Dairy Farmers of Ontario,
the minister announced an investment of $7 million from the Mature Animal
The goal of the fund is to expand Ontario's overall slaughter capacity
for surplus mature animals to help reduce the backlog of cattle in the
province. Under the first phase of this initiative, the province has signed
agreements with four abattoirs valued at just under $5 million. More than
$2 million remaining in the fund will be made available through the second
phase of this initiative.
"The livestock industry has been hit especially hard by our inability
to move cull cattle across the border," said Gord Coukell, Chair
of the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. "We appreciate the Ontario government's
help in relieving the situation by investing in more slaughter capacity
for now, and for the future."
"By working with our partners in the agri-food industry we have
developed a program that will reap benefits for both the industry and
our communities," Peters said. "It is through investments such
as this that we continue to build strong communities and give Ontarians
a quality of life that is second to none."
For more information about phase two of the abattoir fund, please visit
the ministry's website at www.omaf.gov.on.ca.
MATURE ANIMAL ABATTOIR FUND
Culling animals from a herd, due to age or decreased productivity, is
a normal agricultural practice. Meat from mature animals is generally
used for ground meat and processed meat products. Due to the May 2003
closing of international borders to Canadian cattle and other ruminants
following the discovery of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in an Alberta
cow, Ontario is facing a growing backlog of cull cattle on the province's
Prior to the border closures, Ontario had been shipping approximately
1,000 cull cows per week for processing in U.S. abattoirs, and as many
as 1,000 dairy heifers per week to be milked in U.S. dairy herds. The
heifers now remain in Ontario's dairy herds, resulting in an increase
in Ontario's dairy cull rates. The lack of slaughter capacity for cull
animals combined with depressed cattle prices has resulted in an estimated
backlog of about 60,000 head in Ontario to date.
Livestock farmers, already financially stressed by the loss of markets
and depressed prices, now are carrying the additional costs of housing
and feeding these cows. This increases the potential for animal welfare
cases and/or the improper disposal of unmarketable cull animals.
Under the Mature Animal Abattoir Fund (MAAF), the Ontario government
is making $7 million available to operators of licensed abattoirs to expand
the province's capacity to slaughter cull animals. Under the first phase
of the program, the government has signed agreements valued at just under
$5 million with Gencor Foods Inc. of Kitchener, Ryding Regency Meat Packers
Ltd. of Toronto, West Grey Premium Beef Inc. of Durham, and Brian Quinn's
Meats Ltd. in Yarker. The remaining funds of the MAAF will be made available
through the second phase of this initiative.
In addition, $3 million is being administered by the Ontario Cattlemen's
Association to fund initiatives such as developing new markets and products
involving cull animal meat, collecting euthanized unmarketable cull cows
and enhanced animal identification.
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