BRESLAU, ONTARIO — The Canadian government is helping to open new markets for Ontario pork by investing C$2.3 million ($2.2 million) in Conestoga Meat Packers. Harold Albrecht, a Member of Parliament (Kitchener-Conestoga), announced the investment from Canada's Economic Action Plan's Slaughter Improvement Program.

"In this current global economy, Canada needs a strong, profitable red meat industry now more than ever," Mr. Albrecht said on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. "This investment will help Conestoga Meat Packers add value to their products and boost the bottom line of producers."

The investment will help Conestoga Meat Packers renovate its facility, allowing it to process value-added products, capture new markets and generate new revenue. In the past eight years, Conestoga Meat Packers, which is owned by 150 hog farmers in southwestern Ontario, has increased its capacity from 3,000 to 14,000 head per week, resulting in an increase in employment from 35 to 350 staff. This investment will further boost its productivity, job creation and the bottom line of local producers.

"Investing in a stronger meat-packing and processing sector in Canada benefits the entire value chain," Mr. Albrecht said. "If packers are profitable and competitive, our farmers will benefit through stronger markets, and our economy will benefit through new jobs."

The C$50-million ($47 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 Canada.

With more than C$20 billion ($19 billion) in sales, the red-meat industry is the single-largest employer in the Canadian food industry.