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Feds Looking To Boost Small Meat Plants

Winnipeg Old Country Sausage is among 12 Canadian meat plants that may get help achieving federal- inspection status in a bid to create opportunities for livestock producers.

Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec both have three plants under consideration while P.E.I. and Alberta have one each.

Federal and provincial agriculture ministers want to encourage provincially inspected plants to register for federal inspection, which would allow them to ship product to other provinces, and in theory, export some production. Many of the dozen plants are located in small centres and it’s hoped this move would also foster job growth in rural areas. (Winnipeg Old Country Sausage is located in the city’s North End.)

Ottawa has allocated $3 million for studying what steps the plants would have to take if they decided to seek federal registration.

The project is considered “part of a road map that would expand interprovincial trade in meat,” the ministers said in a statement. The study will consider new inspection and technical procedures better adapted to smaller provincial plants.

Achieving federal status is costly and requires some federal funding support to make it practical, said Jim Laws, president of the Canadian Meat Council.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is doing the study, but no conclusions have been reached so far, said agency spokeswoman Alice D’Anjou. The agency will not be compromising federal standards, she said.

“Food safety standards will not be reduced in any way,” she said.

“All federally registered facilities will be required to meet the same standard. Timing of federal registration may vary from pilot site to pilot site depending on the adjustments required to fully align with the federal requirements and revised procedures.”

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service is moving in a similar direction, and is looking for ways to encourage interstate shipment of meat from state-inspected facilities with fewer than 25 employees. That plan centres around having federal inspectors ensuring the smaller plants meet federal standards so they can ship meat and poultry products, bearing an official USDA mark of inspection, across state lines.

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