Canada assists in beef plant upgrade

by Bryan Salvage
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WINNIPEG, MANITOBA — Canada’s government is helping open new markets for Manitoba beef by conditionally approving a loan of up to C$10 million ($9.3 million) to Keystone Processors Ltd. to upgrade a beef processing plant. This is a key initiative under the Slaughter Improvement Program, part of Canada's Economic Action Plan. The Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council also announced an additional investment of C$7.5 million ($7 million) for Keystone Processors Ltd.

Keystone Processors Ltd. is a Winnipeg-based processing company that bought a former federal hog-processing facility in 2008 and converted it into a provincially licensed beef-processing facility.

"We have recognized the importance of increasing slaughter capacity in Manitoba and through our government's establishment of the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council we are creating working partnerships with the council, industry and governments that are key to building our processing capacity," said Rosann Wowchuk, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives. "When we build on beef processing in our province, we are opening the door to our producers for new markets and new jobs."

"These funds are critical for us to move forward with significant plant upgrades, which will eventually allow us to export Manitoba beef across the country and around the world," added Kelly Penner, president and chief executive officer of Keystone Processors Ltd. "Our company represents Manitoba farmers taking control of their destiny by owning every part of the value chain from farm gate to our customers' plates."

Keystone’s plans include retrofitting parts of the existing plant, as well as demolishing and rebuilding older sections so the facility meets or exceeds the highest food-safety protocols for domestic sales and for export markets including Asia and the European Union.

"Investing in a stronger meat packing and processing sector in Canada benefits the entire value chain," said Minister Vic Toews, president of the Treasury Board and Regional Minister for Manitoba. "If packers are profitable and competitive, our farmers will benefit through stronger markets, and our economy will benefit through new jobs."

Canada’s C$50-million ($46.6 million) Slaughter Improvement Program makes federal repayable contributions available to support sound business plans aimed at reducing costs, increasing revenues and improving operations of meat packing and processing operations in that country, according to a news release.

Federal and M.C.E.C. funding is subject to Keystone Processors Ltd. meeting specific conditions set out by the federal government and M.C.E.C. related to their project proposal and the signing of a funding agreement.

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