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Dunlop going to bat for meat processors

In Agriculture
Jan 23rd, 2011

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop plans to give a voice to local meat processors who say they are being pushed out of business by ever-changing government regulations.

“We should be able to have a spirit of entrepreneurship without the government interfering and bullying,” Dunlop said in an interview on Friday.
Dunlop met with the owners of five local meat processing operations on Thursday to discuss their issues with the current regulations and the inspectors enforcing them.
“They agree with the regulations and the meat act, but the problem lies with the inspection department and the process they have to follow to implement the regulations. This is where they feel they’re being penalized,” Dunlop said.
“There’s too much flexibility for the inspectors to come in and nitpick… They can basically shut them down on the spot and they feel if they fight back they are penalized even more.”
Dunlop said none of the business owners he met with wanted their names released or to comment on the record out of fear of retaliation.
“There’s no question they feel they are being intimidated and harassed… This isn’t something we should be putting up with in Ontario… Life’s too short to worry about who’s going to shut you down,” Dunlop said, noting some meat processing business owners have voluntarily closed their doors to escape the uncertainty.
“I’ve had people come up to me on the street asking what I’m going to do about Dan the Chicken Man. He served a lot of people for many years and now those people have to drive 100 kilometres to have their chickens slaughtered… Surely we can do better than that here in Ontario,” Dunlop said.
After 25 years in business, Dan Waito, known as Dan Dan the Chicken Man, decided to call it quits, making 2010 his final year in business, putting at least four employees out of work and forcing his 300 customers to take their business out of town.
Waito said stricter provincial meat regulations would have meant spending $125,000 in upgrades to his Coldwater abattoir by March 2012 in order to stay in business.
“Regulations and bureaucracy basically forced him out of busin e s s,” Dunlop said, noting smaller operations don’t have the income to make dramatic upgrades.
“The ministry will always come back and say ‘We’re only doing our job to keep the public safe,’ but we’ve had businesses like these in Canada for over 100 years. Surely to God we can figure out a way to keep these guys in business… These are people’s livelihoods we’re talking about.”
Dunlop said he plans to talk to members of caucus to see if they are hearing the same com-plaints. He said he also wants to discuss options with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
“They aren’t asking for handouts and aren’t saying we don’t need inspectors, but they feel they are being singled out,” he said.
Meat processing inspection is both a federal and provincial responsibility in Ontario. There are 33 federally licensed abattoirs in the province, responsible for processing 85% of Ontario’s livestock. The remaining 15% of livestock is processed by 191 provincially licensed operations, which are mainly small, rural, family-owned operations.
“These guys have nobody else to turn to,” Dunlop said.


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