New funding expands processing space dashboard for farmers and abattoirs

AgSights and Meat & Poultry Ontario (MPO) are launching an expansion of a digital dashboard that links farmers looking for processing space with abattoirs that have immediate availability or are accepting future bookings.

The technical enhancements to Processor Links, launched last year by AgSights and Meat & Poultry Ontario (MPO), are designed to add more functionality to the online tool and make it more user-friendly for both farmers and abattoirs using the system.

The project team will also develop a business and sustainability plan for the platform to demonstrate how it will meet the long-term needs of Ontario’s meat production sector

“Local Food Week is an excellent opportunity to recognize how online tools like the AgSights dashboard boost efficiency in our meat processing sector. The Processor Links will strengthen the supply chain and drive a return on investment that the province can rely on,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Ensuring our farmers have faster and easier access to processing space across the province increases efficiency, capacity and profitability for Ontario’s meat sector.”

“Many of Ontario’s provincially licensed abattoirs are facing critical, ongoing labour shortages and we appreciate the provincial government’s support in helping the industry find solutions that will alleviate stress and pressure for both abattoirs and farmers,” said Meat & Poultry Ontario Executive Director Franco Naccarato. “Long-term, tools like Processor Links that can improve the efficiency and logistics of managing processing capacity will play a key role in maintaining and expanding our ability to provide safe, locally produced food in Ontario.”

In its existing form, Processor Links offers users a summary of current booking lead times at participating abattoirs, contact information for provincially licensed facilities, and what species they’re able to process as well as which businesses have the capacity to accommodate last-minute bookings. Ultimately, an automated booking system will decrease logistics workloads for abattoirs, simplify allocation of inspection resources and make it easier for farmers to find and make appointments.

“We’re excited to take on the next step in the development of the dashboard and are looking forward to engaging with the industry to develop what a long-term vision for Processor Links should look like,” said project manager Betty-Jo Almond, General Manager of AgSights. “This is a project that will benefit our entire livestock and meat processing sector and the government’s support is critical to helping us find lasting solutions to the labour challenges we’re facing.”

Meat processing has long struggled with labour shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic not only intensified worker shortages, but also contributed to increased custom processing demand as more people began purchasing meat directly from producers or raising their own backyard flocks or small livestock. The dashboard is available on the AgSights website.