New initiative helps farmers find processing space for livestock
Guelph ON: September 29, 2022 – A new digital dashboard is hoping to make the process of finding available processing space at abattoirs in Ontario simpler for farmers. AgSights and Meat and Poultry Ontario have launched Processor Links, an online tool that provides alternatives by making it easier to connect farmers looking for processing space with abattoirs who are able to accommodate last minute needs or are accepting future bookings.
Many abattoirs are dealing with labour shortages, meaning they at times have no alternative but cancel processing days with farmers if they have staff who are off work due to illness or injury. This is not always received well by their customers, and the digital dashboard is part of a project funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) to help find a solution for both farmers and processors.
“Most of Ontario’s provincially licensed abattoirs are small, family-run businesses and cancelling processing days causes a great deal of stress and pressure for them too, not just farmers,” says Meat and Poultry Ontario Executive Director Franco Naccarato. “Our goal with this project is to provide information to farmers, including summary of current booking lead times, contact information for provincially licensed facilities, and what species they’re able to process.”
Farmers looking for help finding processing options or processing plants wishing to be added to the online dashboard can fill out a form on the AgSights website. The ultimate goal is to build an online platform to automate the booking process, which would decrease workloads for abattoirs and make it easier for farmers to find and make appointments.
“We encourage custom processors across Ontario to participate in the dashboard so that we can offer a tool that is as robust and useful as possible to everyone involved,” says Betty-Jo Almond, General Manager of AgSights. “More information means greater transparency and that helps both farmers and processors with their planning and management of their operations.”
The project began with an information gathering process with farmers and abattoirs to help understand the challenges they’re facing in the current tight labour environment and what tools might help address the situation. Meat processing has long struggled with labour shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic 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 processing availability dashboard and online sign-up forms are available at https://agsights.com/what-is-processor-links/abattoir-booking/. This project is funded by the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), a five-year, federal-provincial- territorial initiative.
Meat & Poultry Ontario (MPO) is the representative voice of Ontario’s meat industry. Our members are independent businesses proud to serve the communities they live and work in. The association is comprised of meat and poultry processors, wholesalers, and retailers; industry suppliers; and not-for-profit organizations that support MPO’s objectives. Ontario’s meat and poultry sector employs 25% of Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry — the single largest manufacturing employer in Ontario — and generates $11.2 billion of the province’s $45 billion food and beverage processing industry revenue. Learn more at www.meatpoultryon.ca.
AgSights is a not-for-profit cooperative established in 1993 as Beef Improvement Ontario. The organization is dedicated to making data capture along the food supply chain as easy as possible using innovative techniques and adding value through linkages and analysis. The Mark of Excellence Award has recognized the contributions of 18 winners since its inception in 1994. Learn more at www.agsights.com.