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Keystone Processing gets government fund injection

“This is about the future of the cattle industry here at home.”

– kelly penner, keystone processing

lans for a new beef-processing plant in Manitoba got a $17.5-million boost this

week.

The provincial government is

investing up to $7.5 million in Keystone Processors Ltd., which will trigger as much as $10 million in loans from Ottawa.

Keystone Processors is renovating a former Maple Leaf pork plant in St. Boniface to process up to 500 cattle daily.

The money, announced Nov. 2, will go toward upgrading the plant to meet federal and European Union certification standards, enabling it to sell beef abroad.

The plant will be provincially inspected at first. It’s expected to become federally licensed within 18 to 24 months, said Kelly Penner, the company’s president and CEO.

Manitoba currently has one federally inspected beef plant located in Winkler.

The facility at 663 Marion Street is currently undergoing extensive renovations. It hopes to start killing cattle on site by September 2011, Penner said.

For now, provincially inspected plants in Manitoba are custom killing 50 to 80 cattle a week for Keystone Processors. The beef is being marketed in Winnipeg and elsewhere in the province.

The province’s contribution comes from the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council through a refundable checkoff of $2 a head on cattle produced and sold in the province. The province dollar-matches the levy.

MCEC previously invested $2.8 million in Keystone Processors as a loan converted into equity, making the council the largest shareholder in the company.

At a news conference, Penner said his company plans to export premium and specialty beef to niche markets in North America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It will also sell locally. Kosher and halal beef are among the its planned products.

“This is about the future of the cattle industry here at home. It is vital for all Manitoba cattle producers to have secure access to markets outside this province,” he said.

“That’s what we set out to do when we formed Keystone Processors: to build a beef plant that would give Manitoba farmers the opportunity to sell their beef to the world and to keep more of the profits here at home.”

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