Manitoba government seeks feedback on protein strategy

Policy: News Roundup from the May 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

The Manitoba government is seeking feedback on its Protein Advantage Strategy, the Manitoba Co-operator reports.

Manitoba’s protein strategy encompasses both plant and animal proteins. On the meat side, the province plans to invest $500 million in primary livestock production and processing by 2025, Alexis Stockford writes, to boost animal protein production 35 per cent above 2017 levels.

Ralph Eichler, Manitoba’s agriculture minister, has stated intentions to help restore the province’s beef herd to pre-BSE numbers. But with only one CFIA-certified beef or bison plant in the province (True North Foods in Carman), processing may be a weak link.

“Businesses will expand as they get capital and demand for their product, but you can’t expand it and hope that the product expansion will grow with you. You have to have some faith in your product first before you can do that,” Eichler said. “And, quite frankly, we don’t have a large number of feedlots in Manitoba, so we rely a lot on Alberta or Ontario to do our processing for us.”

Tom Teichroeb, president of the Manitoba Beef Producers, was positive about the planned processing boost, saying it “captures the imagination.” While challenges remain around EU access, trade news has been largely positive for the beef and pork sectors, he said. However, a stable labour supply “will be absolutely key in achieving those possibilities,” he said.

The provincial government also hopes to attract $1 billion of investment in plant protein processing by 2025. Roquette is set to open a pea protein plant in Portage la Prairie next year, and Simplot planning to complete a $460 million expansion to its Portage la Prairie plant this fall. Robin Young, chief operating officer with Manitoba’s Food Development Centre, noted challenges remain on the processing and regulatory side.

The public can forward written feedback to mbproteinadvant­[email protected]. The feedback deadline is May 15.

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