The recent announcement by the Ontario government of an investment into the province’s meat processing sector is welcome news for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA). The funding, provided by the governments of Ontario and Canada under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP), will provide eligible meat processing businesses with up to $150,000 each for meat handling and processing equipment, technologies, and practices that improve efficiency, productivity, and food safety.
Ontario’s meat processing business are a critical link in the provincial – and national – food supply chain, and innovation is one way to address the ongoing challenges they face such as labour shortages and regulatory compliance requirements that are limiting their growth.
The OFA, representing farmers, and Meat and Poultry Ontario, representing meat processors, have been raising awareness of this issue for a long time, and in addition to this new funding, there are also other new initiatives now underway that will start to make a difference for the industry.
One of these is Processor Links, an online tool that makes it easier to connect farmers looking for processing space with processors who can accommodate last minute needs or are accepting future bookings. Funded by the federal and provincial governments, it was launched in 2022 by AgSights and Meat and Poultry Ontario.
Updates to Processor Links, also funded by the federal and provincial governments, will be added to the system this fall to add more functionality to the online tool and make it more user-friendly for both farmers and processors using the system.
And earlier this year, Meat and Poultry Ontario launched the new Centre for Meat Innovation and Technology (CMIT), which is designed to bring more training, innovation and research to the meat processing sector. The Centre, which is the only Canadian meat technology hub that encompasses skills development, training and sharing best practices backed by world class research and education, will help businesses find and adopt new technologies and make it easier for workers to learn and advance their skills.