Manitoulin Island Community Abattoir’s Grand Opening

Things looking a bit different?
Nope, you're not on the wrong site – we're updating our look and content! Keep your eyes peeled for more changes!

Author: Danny Brown

Posted: May 31, 2013

Categories: Food in the News / Food in the News / News from Sustain Ontario / Nouvelles / The Meat Press

Manitoulin Meat regulations

Credit: Murray Dewing, Our Manitoulin! Flickr album. (Creative Commons).

Sustain Ontario would like to congratulate the community of Manitoulin Island for the grand opening of it’s not-for-profit community abattoir featured in the The Sudbury Star. The Maintoulin Island Community Abattoir is “a farmer-owned cooperative run by members” and has “received financing from  the Ontario Cattlemen, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp., FedNor, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food’s RED (Rural Economic Development) program, local municipalities and first nations.”

Over the past few weeks Sustain Ontario has been working closely with stakeholders across the province to aggregate feedback in response to the government of Ontario’s initiative to modify regulations concerning the meat industry. The government has indicated that these changes are necessary to “reflect current practices in the meat processing sector while maintaining a strong food safety system.” Most of the changes revolve around clarifying the food safety inspection regime for restaurant and food service facilities allowing a small exemption for wholesale activities at these establishments. A full list of the changes can be found here.

While many of the proposed technical changes have been welcomed by meat processors, many are still concerned about the lack of attention being paid to the increasingly rapid closures of abattoirs across the province, especially in more rural areas. Abattoirs play a crucial link in the meat industry, allowing farmers to convert their livestock into consumer products for purchase wholesale or at retail outlets. However, abattoirs also depend on farmers for their own livelihood and regulatory burdens in addition to market forces have seen many small and medium scale abattoirs forced out of business, leaving both farmers and consumers at a loss of how to process or secure locally raised meat.

Thankfully, some communities are taking this problem into their own hands and creating innovative solutions to this gap in the meat system. On Manitoulin Island, dozens of local farmers have banded together to establish the Manitoulin Island Community Abattoir through a co-operative investment scheme. Although it took six years to complete, the new facility is expected to process approximately 15 animals per day, generating $1.30 on every dollar of agriculture that stays on the island. Here’s hoping that this model will be duplicated in other communities across the province and that the Ontario government will investigate this promising funding model and continue to find ways to enable small and medium scale agricultural enterprises to thrive in our province.