Ont. backs Manitoulin Island slaughter plant

Livestock producers on southern Ontario’s Manitoulin Island will get provincial funding toward a community abattoir to supply local-level processors.

The province on Tuesday pledged $129,168 in funding from its Rural Economic Development program for the $1.58 million project, spearheaded by the Manitoulin Island Community Abattoir (MICA) group.

“The new abattoir will give farmers the opportunity to expand their marketing opportunities and it will give the consumers in the greater Manitoulin area the opportunity to eat local meat,” MICA chair Birgit Martin said in the province’s release.

The MICA plant is expected to open “in the coming months,” said Martin, who with her family finishes cattle at Gore Bay and already markets “gate-to-plate” beef.

The not-for-profit farmer group would operate the plant as a provincially-regulated and licensed facility, which is expected to supply over 70 meat processors and producers in the area.

The province said it expects the MICA plant to help create a “stronger community of local processors” on the Lake Huron island, and to help “increase the sustainability of the local beef farms.”

The Manitoulin region as of 2006 was home to over 150 beef farms, posting an estimated $6 million in annual sales, although most of their cattle currently end up shipped to feedlots or slaughter plants on the southern Ontario mainland.

MICA’s proposal calls for a 2,600-square foot “kill-and-chill” abattoir that’s designed to handle up to 20 cattle and 20 hogs per kill day, and to operate one kill day per week.

The proposed plant in January cleared a federal environmental assessment, required because of the possibility of future federal investment in the project through Industry Canada.

The 10-acre plant site is to be on farmland in Central Manitoulin township, which is based around the community of Mindemoya.

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