Dufferin County looking for farmer investors in livestock processing facility

Dufferin County looking for farmer investors in livestock processing facility
Dec 02, 2021

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The proposed plant would address a community need

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

An Ontario community is searching for local farmers to invest in a livestock processing facility.

Dufferin County is looking for about 50 farmers to participate in the Meat Processing Project and commit to utilizing and investing in a new producer-owned facility before March 2022.

This facility would address a need the ag community raised during the pandemic, said Karisa Downey, manager of economic development with Dufferin County.

“We heard from farmers that there was a huge gap in the supply chain,” she told Farms.com. “Farmers weren’t able to get meat processed in a timely fashion and were hearing farmers booking animals in a year in advance and in some cases before they were even born.”

OMAFRA is supporting the project with a rural economic development grant. And Mallot Creek Group conducted a feasibility study on Dufferin County’s behalf this spring to identify potential opportunities.

Mallot Creek is also providing analysis on the cost for producers looking to invest in the project.

“It’s looking like shares will be sold in the form of livestock units,” Downey said. “We’re playing with different supply targets and (determining) what percentage of shares producers would own and what percentage investors would own to make the bottom line work.”

The feasibility study from Mallot Creek suggested the site be located in an existing industrial location within an urban centre.

This would provide multiple benefits, Downey said.

“It would allow for future expansion opportunities and access to the local workforce,” she said.

Of the 50 farmers Dufferin County is looking for, about 10 have committed to the project.

Bill McCutcheon, a lamb producer and president of the Dufferin Federation of Agriculture, is among them.

Currently, Dufferin County has available facilities where meat can go for harvesting and storing.

This new proposed facility would address the lack of plants available to process meat into different cuts. A local location would help farmers take advantage of community demand, he said.

“Most of our producers have to go out of county for processing, so they’re spending a lot of time and miles to do that,” he told Farms.com. “What having a facility here does is give us a faster response time to demand. It’s not a very good business model if someone wants lamb tonight and I have to tell them they can have it in six months.”

A retail outlet may also be part of the facility’s plans.

Any producers looking for more information can visit the Dufferin Meat Processing Project website.

The next public meeting is scheduled for Dec. 15 at 1pm.

Anyone interested in attending can contact Karisa Downey.

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