“The topic is “Mobile Abattoirs” – litterally, slaugherhouses on wheels! – which some say could bring more meat processing capacity to rural Ontario, and thus improve access to local meat around the province. What do you think? Join in on the conversation onTuesday, October 30, from 12 noon – 2 p.m.
In many parts of Ontario, livestock farmers and butchers alike are struggling to keep their businesses going. Some farmers can’t find nearby abattoirs to take their animals to for processing, while some butchers and abattoir operators struggle to bring in enough income to stay ahead of the high costs of increasingly strict regulations. In fact, as a result of these constraints and others, the number of small processors operating in Ontario has dropped by 40% since 1991.
It can be easy to forget how important butchers are in local food systems, but the truth is that small farmers really need local processors in order to get their healthy, ethically-grown meat to the people who want to eat it! Demand for organic and/or local meat is on the rise, especially in the wake of the disturbing news of beef recalls and food safety issues in some of the large-scale meat processing plants in the country. Unfortunately, the infrastructure that farmers need to keep producing local meat is disappearing…
So, we’ve set out to bring together a collection of voices to speak to one proposed solution: the mobile abattoir. These “processors-on-wheels” already operate in parts of BC and Alberta, as well as in several states in the US, and we’re interested in hearing opinions about their applicability in Ontario. Many say that they can be viable businesses that make sense for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that animals avoid the stressful journey from farm to slaughterhouse. How well do these abattoirs serve small farmers? Are they viable businesses? Can they be made to work with existing food safety laws? How would they affect other butchers/processors in Ontario? What are the relevant differences between poultry and large animal abattoirs?…”