From FCC Express
By Owen Roberts
Ontario beef farmers say the multi-million-dollar technology investment announced recently by Cargill and the province for the company’s Guelph beef processing facility will help drive a healthy livestock market in the province.
Through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the province will contribute up to $582,000 of the $3.5-million proprietary technology that will enable the company to process raw, low-value byproduct into nutrient-rich animal feed onsite, rather than trucking it elsewhere.
The feed will primarily be fed to dairy cows domestically and abroad.
Beef farmers welcome the announcement. Joe Hill of Fergus, Ont., vice-president of the Beef Farmers of Ontario, says it “sends a signal to farmers that Cargill is a solid player in the marketplace, by spending its own money in its plant.”
It’s a good sign, too, he says, that the province invested in this project.
“It shows commitment, and helps Cargill maintain competitive bids for Ontario beef cattle,” Hill says.
Jim Clark, executive director of the Ontario Cattle Feeders’ Association, says the new technology helps make the industry stronger. Transportation and emissions savings enable the company to reduce its environmental footprint and keep costs in check.
“Anything done as an efficiency builds on the partnership between Cargill and beef farmers,” Clark says.
The sector needs some good news. Over the past 18 months, the market price for fed cattle dropped at what Hill calls an “alarming” rate. In fact, he says, losses in the feeding industry rival those of the BSE years, in the early part of this century.
As well, parts of the province suffered through drought conditions last summer, which greatly reduced pasture and hay and forage production. Hill says some farmers have reduced their herds to match available feed supplies, while others have tried to source alternative feeds such as drought-affected corn.
Focused on the future
At the Cargill announcement, the sector was able to momentarily put aside its troubles and focus on the future.
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Minister Jeff Leal spoke about exports, and noted farmers must have access to modern, efficient processing capacity to compete internationally.
Productivity, innovation and value-added exports are central to remaining competitive, he said.
“With the North America market evolving, we need to be sure companies here can succeed beyond our borders,” Leal says.