$127K served up for Meat and Poultry Ontario research to improve processing sector

MPP Jim McDonell (left) and Ontario's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman. Twitter photo

CORNWALL — The Ontario and federal governments are ponying up $127,000 to support Meat and Poultry Ontario (MPO) research that aims to spur the processing industry.

Local MPP Jim McDonell welcomed the Feb. 17 announcement from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Annual General Meeting of the Beef Farmers of Ontario.

“This new research project will enhance Ontario’s meat processing sector, which has been working hard to overcome the challenges created by the pandemic,” said the member for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

The demand for processing facilities in Ontario, especially in the North, continues to grow. In response, MPO has begun researching a strategy that pairs skills development with “innovative technologies to increase efficiency and capacity across the sector.”

“Ontario’s meat processing sector is an important contributor to Ontario’s economy,” said Hardeman during his address. “Today’s announcement is part of our government’s plan to support projects that increase processing capacity and help our local meat sector continue to grow.”

According to the province, the latest effort builds on three other federal-provincial funding programs introduced over the last year to deal with more urgent challenges. Those programs have served up $2 million for food safety initiatives; $2.25 million for provincial meat plants to increase worker health and safety during COVID; and $4 million for rapid measures to increase capacity.

“The pandemic has highlighted some of the vulnerabilities in the meat and poultry sector, one of them being the need to increase processing capacity,” said Carol Goriup, President of Meat & Poultry Ontario. “This study is the first step in identifying opportunities and possible solutions for the future growth of our sector.  We would like to thank the federal and provincial governments for their timely funding of this project.”

MPO plans to work with farmers to understand both current and future needs for processing and packaging, and how their needs differ based on where they are in the province. The data will be collected and analyzed for the creation of a potential centralized reservation system of processing that could be developed in the future. Provincial abattoirs and licensed processors have been similarly consulted to understand the current state of their operations, the potential for growth, and the technical requirements to support that growth.

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