More than 30 people were on hand last Wednesday night at the annual meeting of the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association, where one of the key issues discussed was the importance of creating a local abattoir.
“Local farmers have lost millions,” Peter Spuzak, the RRCA’s outgoing president, stressed in an interview Friday. “We’d benefit from developing an abattoir to get the most out of what we have here.”
This past fall, a steering committee was formed, including Spuzak, Ken McKinnon, Russ Richards, Aarne Hahkala, and Dennis Brown.
Spuzak indicated their idea is the develop a cattlemen-owned, not-for-profit abattoir.
“I presented a rough idea of what to do,” he said. “But we’re still in the planning stages.”
Still, he hopes to eventually encourage all cattlemen to participate, especially financially.
“At this point, there are no other alternatives,” Spuzak argued, noting many initiatives were stopped because of government rules and red tape.
“If Rainy River can generate one-third of the cost, even one-sixth of the cost, then we’d hopefully be able to find some financing for the rest,” he remarked, adding they should be able to get government assistance for a not-for-profit project.
Spuzak said he knows building an abattoir will need some undertaking, hard work, and commitment, but hopes everyone will come together for the project.
“The harder part will be getting people to commit with funds,” he acknowledged. “I know it’s difficult to scrape up the money right now.”
While Spuzak feels the government should pay for the whole thing, he believes this is the only way.
“We have to try to keep the money in the district for the economy,” he stressed. “It’s a sad business—everyone is losing.”
Spuzak indicated once the plans become a bit more structured, he would like to hold a public meeting for district cattlemen so they can ask questions and become involved in the process.
He hopes the meeting will be held in mid-February.
“[The abattoir] will be smaller in size than previous plans and some of the frills won’t be there, but we have to live within our means,” Spuzak said.
“We’re going to go as far as we can,” he vowed. “We’re not quitting until the last door is closed.”
Also at last Wednesday’s annual meeting, Spuzak noted an all-time record of cattle sold.
“People are starting to look closer to home,” he said, adding the sales barn in Stratton has been a good thing.
“We’re going to add an extra sale in late fall,” he announced. “The public seems to want it.”
Two guest speakers also made presentations at last Wednesday’s meeting.
Roger Griffiths, a board member for the Ontario Cattlemen’s Association, provided a summary of what the OCA has been doing. As well, Barry Potter, a northern livestock specialist, spoke on the importance of age verification in cattle.
Those in attendance also heard short reports by the Rainy River Federation of Agriculture, the Rainy River Farm and Safety Committee, the Rainy River Vet Committee, the Rainy River Community Pasture Committee, the Rainy River Feeder Finance Committee, the Rainy River Beef Breeder Co-op, and the Stratton sales barn.
As well, three new members were elected to the RRCA board: Jeff Pollard, Dennis Boersma, and Mark Chojko-Bolec. They join Tony Flatt, Robert Kreger, Rick Boersma, Darrel Angus, Ken McKinnon, and Aarne Hahkala.
The new Ontario Advisory Council member is Dennis Boersma while Stefan Szeder is the alternate.
However, secretary Krista Gibson noted the RRCA needs two more members, plus two voting delegates to attend the OCA’s meeting Feb. 22-23 in Toronto.
Anyone interested in these positions can contact Ken McKinnon at 486-3451 or attend the next RRCA meeting slated for Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Morley municipal office.
A new president for the coming year also will be elected at that time.