Ontario Government Continues To Support Livestock Industry

Archived Release

Ontario Government Continues To Support Livestock Industry

Invests In Four Additional Projects To Increase Abattoir Capacity DURHAM, ON, Nov. 1 - The McGuinty government is helping Ontario's livestock industry deal with the continuing effects of BSE by rolling out Phase Two of the Mature Animal Abattoir Fund, Minister of Agriculture and Food Steve Peters announced today. "Our government is committed to a strong agri-food industry in Ontario," said Peters. "We are investing a total of $7 million in Ontario abattoirs to 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 processing industry." Four project proponents will receive a total of $2 million in funding as part of the Ontario government's efforts to assist the beleaguered livestock industry deal with the effects of continued border closures. The goal of the fund is to expand Ontario's overall slaughter capacity for surplus mature animals to help reduce the backlog of these animals in the province. Under the first phase of this initiative in June, the province signed agreements with four abattoirs valued at just under $5 million. These projects have already generated a significant increase in mature cattle slaughter in Ontario. "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." Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- November 1, 2004 MATURE ANIMAL ABATTOIR FUND Culling animals from a herd, due to age or decreased productivity, is an accepted 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 livestock farms. 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. On June 16, 2004, the Honourable Steve Peters, Minister of Agriculture and Food, announced the four recipients under the first phase of the program. Under phase two of the program, the government has entered into agreements with Holly Park Meat Packers Inc., M. Scheel Packers Inc., Aman's Abattoir and Rideau Meats. 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. Disponible en fran├žais www.OMAF.gov.on.caFor further information: Media Contact: Jamie Rilett, Minister's Office, (416) 326-6439; Program Contact: Lee-Ann Walker, 1-877-838-5144