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District farmers propose interim solutions for meat processing Frustrated by no response

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FORT FRANCES—Members of the Local Food for Local People (LFLP) committee spoke with Pat Johnson, director of food safety for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, via a teleconference last week to propose interim solutions to processing district livestock locally until an abattoir can be built here.

“She was to prepare a list and give it to her superiors,” noted committee chair Amos Brielmann. “And [she] promised to e-mail us or call us back by the latest Monday and we haven’t received anything, so we’re a little frustrated.”

Early last month, OMAFRA reinforced the regulations surrounding the processing of uninspected meat.

Sunrise Meat and Sausage in Barwick and Greensides General Store in Devlin were specifically targeted—and all uninspected meat on their premises was condemned.

With the help of Rainy River First Nations and a two-day protest, farmers with meat at the Barwick plant were able to save it from being rendered.

But now with government eyes upon them, they are searching for an interim solution and asking OMAFRA for assistance.

“And we are looking for a solution for the district—not just Sunrise Meats,” member Kim Jo Bliss stressed.

The LFLP committee put five proposals on the table:

•that inspected meat could be processed at facilities only on Monday and Tuesday of each week, and then uninspected meat and wild game would be processed there Wednesday through Saturday (the facility would be inspected by a licensed health inspector before the processing began each week);

•that the farm animals could be dealt with in the same way as wild game;

•that animals could be transported to Thunder Bay or Dryden abattoirs and brought back in a trailer unit, with OMAFRA subsidizing the costs;

•that OMAFRA consider all the farm-slaughtered animals as emergency kill where an on-farm inspector could inspect the meat; and

•that OMAFRA consider the potential of licensing a mobile abattoir.

“We suggested everything that applies to wild game could apply to the meat that comes in from the farm,” said Brielmann, adding the ministry said no to that because they would have to change the act.

“You can transport the deer you shot, drag in through the mud for two miles, bring it in, and it can be processed on the food premises,” he noted.

“I can pick it up and obtain a special permit to take the meat and have a wild game supper. What’s the difference between that meat and the meat that comes from the farm?” Brielmann added.

He noted the proposal about subsidizing the costs of transporting the animals to Thunder Bay or Dryden got the most positive reaction from Johnson and those from the ministry who were in on the teleconference.

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