BARWICK—The condemned meat at Sunrise Meat and Sausage in Barwick was set to be rendered Thursday, but the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Foods, and Rural Affairs instead has agreed to another hearing on the matter on Friday.
“Late today we received a call saying we have another hearing,” Amos Brielmann told close to 300 people during a meeting at the Barwick Hall on Wednesday night.
“It nearly made me fall off my chair.”
“We’re happy to see some movement in the ministry,” echoed Kim Jo Bliss, adding the demonstration that had been planned for Thursday morning would not go ahead.
“We don’t want to do something foolish and move things the other way,” she stressed.
Although no representatives from OMAFRA were present at Wednesday night’s meeting, the newly-formed “Local Food for Local People” committee wanted to ensure the public is aware of the situation.
This committee—which includes Bliss, Brielmann, Joe Sletmoen, Debbie Zimmerman, Nico Veldhuisen, and Clayton Teeple—established three objectives they will work towards:
•to clear the name of Sunrise Meat and Sausage owners Paul and Susan Peters, as well as their staff;
•to ask OMAFRA to postpone the rending of the condemned meat until the findings of the hearing are available in writing; and
•to ask OMAFRA to grant an interim solution until a licensed slaughter facility can be constructed in Rainy River District.
“Paul and Susan have been harmed the most here,” said Brielmann. “Their integrity has been put on the line and the accusations made against them are untrue.”
He urged residents to write letters to the editors of the local newspapers and to continue to purchase meat from this facility.
“The meat Paul sells in inspected,” he stressed. “We owe it to them to do this.”
Brielmann noted they’d also like to postpone the rendering of the condemned meat until the accusations can be cleared up.
“As long as the meat is in the coolers, we have a bargaining tool,” he remarked, adding the earliest the meat can be removed now is Monday and they hope to see positive results at tomorrow’s hearing.
“Our hope is all the meat will be given back to the owners,” Brielmann said. “We are being pushed around by regulations suited for big corporations.”
Peters noted three officials were scheduled to go out to his facility Thursday to sort out the three types of meat there—inspected, wild game, and farmers’ meat—and hoped at least some of it could be saved.
“There’s still hope,” he said. “We really want to save every last piece.”
Brielmann said the committee plans to propose a temporary solution to OMAFRA at Friday’s hearing—that Peters would process only inspected meat on Monday and Tuesday of each week and then Wednesday through Saturday would process the uninspected meat and wild game.
The facility would be inspected by a licensed health inspector before the processing began each week.
This proposal also would be functional for Greensides General Store in Devlin, which had a hearing Wednesday regarding similar accusations and also had meat condemned.
“The solutions brought to us, such as sending the animals to [an abattoir in] Thunder Bay make the product too expensive,” Brielmann noted, adding they tried to make this proposal during the hearing this past Monday, but weren’t heard.
The committee is not sure what changed OMAFRA’s plans, but were told the ministry doesn’t typically postpone orders.
“So we must have done something right,” Bliss remarked.
Letters from local MP Ken Boshcoff and local MPP Howard Hampton also were read Wednesday night offering support to the residents of Rainy River District.
“We’re in a bad situation, but let’s try to turn it into something positive,” added Bliss added, noting she was proud at how calm and rational everyone acted during Wednesday night’s meeting.
“All we can do is hope for the best,” she remarked.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)