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Ont. beef processor still suspended

Ont. beef processor still suspended

BFO is attempting to speed up a resolution for the suspended licence of Ryding-Regency Meat Packer Ltd. to provide relief to beef farmers in Ont. 

By Jackie Clark
Staff Writer
Farms.com

Beef Farmers of Ontario (BFO) staff are working hard to find solutions for farmers left with excess cattle due to the CFIA’s ongoing suspension of processing at Ryding-Regency Meat Packers Ltd.

The nature of the suspension, which began Sept. 30, remains unclear. “We don’t know anything specific other than that there was some non-compliance,” Joe Hill, the president of BFO, told Farms.com.

BFO has worked with the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association to try to rectify the situation.

“We secured the services of a leading meat hygiene expert to provide third-party consultation to Ryding-Regency to help the (packer) develop its corrective action plan,” Hill said. The farm organizations have also reached out to the CFIA and communicated the seriousness of the situation to both provincial and federal government officials.

BFO is attempting to help beef farmers in the province find other places to ship their cattle.

“We’ve been reaching out to packing plants,” Hill explained. “Some have added overtime and Saturday shifts to try to boost their volume.

“The producers who are typically shipping into Ryding-Regency have been really left out on the hook,” he added. “The other plants have been full of cattle from the regular suppliers, so they’ve been hesitant to take extra cattle. (These plants) are now taking as many (cattle) as they can, but it’s still left us with a fairly significant backlog to work through, and with no surplus capacity really in existence. It’s going to take a lot longer than we’d like.”

The backlog has had consequences for beef farmers.

“Some of the guys are really a little desperate. They’re feeding cattle that should have gone to market a month or more ago. (Producers) are typically looking to buy calves this time of year, but they can’t because they don’t have room for them. It’s put a lot of stress on those producers,” Hill explained.

Ryding-Regency Meat Packers Ltd. represents about 10 per cent of Ontario’s beef processing capacity, Hill estimates.

“It’s significant and, on top of that, we’re arguably short on capacity to start with,” he said. “We’ve had a number of issues over the last couples of years where we’re left holding onto cattle that should be gone to market that aren’t because there isn’t room for them.”

BFO hopes this specific suspension will be resolved soon, but the organization is also looking for long-term solutions.

It “would be ideal if we could get the government enticing an expansion of processing capacity. We have a pretty good demand for our product all over the world and we’re limited by processing capacity,” Hill said.

ablokhin\iStock\Getty Images Plus photo

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