An ambitious proposal to establish a federally-inspected abattoir in Eastern Ontario may not be as over-the-top as some skeptics believe.
Spearheaded by l’Union des cultivateurs franco-ontariens and backed by farm leaders and politicians in the counties of Prescott, Russell, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, the proposal received a prime cut of provincial government cash - and credibility - Sept. 25 during a gathering in St. Isidore.
Liberal MPPs Jean-Marc Lalonde and Jim Brownell, who together represent the five counties in the provincial legislature, brought tidings of a $125,000 contribution to project backers under the government’s Rural Economic Development Program.
The money is specifically to undertake a feasibility study and business plan, two essential items which must be in place before l’Union and its supporters can realistically push ahead with the bricks and mortar part of the project.
As yet, no decision has been taken on where in the five counties such a facility should be located, a crucial component the study must cover. And many close observers are dubious the necessary weekly numbers of culled cattle are available. That’s another item for the study to delve into.
The usual political pronouncements were made about government commitment to the wellbeing of rural Ontarians but this time they rang true. The investment represents a giant pledge of support, a clear indication by a senior government that an abattoir in the region could work. Otherwise, why would our elected leaders toss good public money at it, right? Governments never back white elephants, do they?
Conceived during the BSE shutdown of the U.S. border which created a backlog of culls in Ontario and bottomed out prices, promoters still maintain the abattoir could work despite current partial border reopening and anticipated full reopening to older animals in the not too distant future. Those circumstances aside, l’UCFO president Pierre Bercier insists a shortage of slaughter capacity in Eastern Ontario remains a problem.
One thing for sure, the show of faith is gratifying and the cash will allow proponents to settle the slaughterhouse validity issue once and for all.