Beef plant loss would be devastating: Bacon

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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The chair of the Atlantic Farmers Council fears the closure of the region's only beef processing plant could be devastating to an industry that can't afford another blow.

The chair of the Atlantic Farmers Council fears the closure of the region's only beef processing plant could be devastating to an industry that can't afford another blow.

"It's going to have a huge effect on the industry throughout Atlantic Canada," Doug Bacon said. "It's going to affect the farmers because they won't be as competitive and it's going to impact consumers, who'll end up paying more at the store."

Bacon said there's a whole list of spinoff effects that people aren't considering, the biggest of which is the loss of the only processing plant in Atlantic Canada. This would force beef farmers to send cattle to Ontario, increasing the cost of production and making it more difficult for local farmers to compete against cheaper imports.

"By sending cattle to Ontario for slaughter you not only have increased transportation and fuel costs but moving the cattle by truck will impact the grade of the beef and we'll take a hit on the price," Bacon said.

Bacon is calling on the four Atlantic provinces to take an active role in saving the facility not just by pouring money into the facility but by taking a greater role in its management. He believes it's an ideal opportunity for provincial governments to support the local industry by using locally-produced meat in provincial institutions, such as Nova Scotia is planning.

"If the provinces put a management plan together that says we're going to use that facility to produce beef for our institutions it would go a long way toward keeping it open," Bacon said. "They've got to take the bull by the horns because if we lose it it'll never come back again."

The Atlantic Beef Products board of directors announced earlier this week that is has about 25 days to save the processing plant before the P.E.I. government stops subsidizing it. The board took out ads in newspapers in Halifax and New Brunswick asking the premiers of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to contribute financially to the plant's survival.

dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Atlantic Beef Products

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Ontario, Nova Scotia New Brunswick P.E.I. Halifax

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