The Abattoir Crisis

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Author: Lauren Baker

Posted: June 15, 2010

Categories: Food Processing / News from Sustain Ontario

Last week I attended a meeting in Elmwood, Ontario (Grey-Bruce) about the closure of small abattoirs across the province. Over 300 people attended the meeting, organized by the Malcolm Women’s Institute.

The crowd heard from an abattoir owner, a farmer, a retailer and the Foodlink Grey & Bruce coordinator. The meeting provided much needed context for me – the abattoir issue has been raised over and over again by Sustain Ontario members.

At the same time as the Ontario government encourages farmers to seek local markets and add value to their farm products, they are creating regulations that push those doing this out of business. Grant Robinson of the NFU called small abattoirs “jewels in the food system.” He used the analogy of using a sledgehammer to do fine carpentry work to describe the current regulations as they apply to small abattoirs.

The Malcolm Women’s Institute issued a resolution supporting small abattoirs that is worth sharing:

“Be it resolved that the new and existing regulations of abattoirs, meat processors and butcher shops be appropriate, and be interpreted appropriately, to meet the necessary food safety standards, and that clauses not necessary to food safety be removed. Also, that financial support from government be made available to assist small businesses in meat slaughter, processing and sale, to meet the ever increasing regulatory burden.”

Foodlink Grey & Bruce is working on these issues and the Markdale Standard published an article on the meeting. Here’s another article on this issue by Ann Slater of the National Farmers Union: Is Staying Small a Luxury?.