Beef farmers in northeastern Ontario are getting a financial boost from the federal government that will help them meet an increasing demand for locally grown beef.
FedNor on Aug. 5 announced $951,530 for two projects concentrated on beef production in the Sault Ste. Marie area.
Of the funding, the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), a division of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), will receive a non-repayable contribution of $721,530 to create and deliver a Responsive Advancement for Meat Processing (RAMP) program that would provide productivity assessments and management training to abattoirs and meat plants throughout Northern Ontario.
“This investment represents an important step toward building a resilient farm and food sector in Northern Ontario,” David Thompson RAIN’s manager, said in a news release.
“FedNor is helping support farmers and communities to enhance the agri-food sector in Algoma region through these funds, and in doing so is helping our region meet its economic potential.”
The goal of the RAMP project is to expand and diversify the meat supply chain, critical to the agri-food sector in the region, in response to the continuing high demand from consumers and farmers for locally sourced meat products.
As a direct result of this investment, RAIN expects to create 10 full-time jobs and to help maintain 35 more.
The remaining $230,000 will go to Penokean Hills Co-operative (PHC) to undertake infrastructure expansion aimed at improving operational efficiency and capacity at the feed yard.
PHC, a collective of farmers operating under the Penokean Hills Farms banner, produces high-quality, grass-fed Angus beef for the local market and for sale to high-end restaurants and butcher shops in southern Ontario.
The improvements achieved through the feed yard project will allow PHC to increase the growth and daily gains of the cattle, and to increase the overall number of finished cattle in the value chain.
This project is anticipated to create one permanent and two temporary jobs while also increasing revenue for local stock farmers and local crop farmers providing feed.
“We are happy that FedNor is supporting this infrastructure expansion, which will allow us to not only continue to create high-end, consistent products for market, but to increase our production,” Chris Gordon, owner and general manager at Penokean Hills Farms, said in the release.
“These improvements will benefit the farming community, our customers, and support many more restaurants, butcher shops, and other businesses across Ontario.”
Penokean Hills Farms is also in the process of building a brand-new abattoir, which will include a slaughterhouse, retail shop, and equipment for smoking, curing and age-drying meat, enabling Penokean Hills to expand into value-added products like jerkeys and pepperettes.