Beef Packers Score More Support In Federal Budget

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Current players in Canada’s beef slaughter and processing sector are among those winning more public funding in the latest federal budget.

The agriculture sector generally will continue to rely on the previously budgeted Growing Forward farm program policy framework for federal and provincial funding, but Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s 2010 budget has laid out renewed funding for some programs and a number of smaller initiatives of interest to farmers and rural residents.

The federal Agricultural Flexibility Fund, introduced in Flaherty’s January 2009 budget, will put up $40 million over three years toward developing and commercializing “innovative technologies” to remove and use specified risk materials.

SRMs, tissues such as the brain, spinal cord and attached nerve ganglia, are known to harbour the protein that causes BSE.

Currently all SRMs must be removed from carcasses at slaughter for Canada to keep its status as a “controlled risk” country for BSE. But disposal remains a challenge for packers who can’t ship those materials to any rendering plant, as SRMs are banned from use in animal feeds, pet foods and fertilizer.

The funding is meant to back technologies that help packers to reduce SRM handling costs and create “potential revenue sources” from SRMs.

The budget also commits $10 million from the $500 million Agricultural Flexibility Fund as a top-up for the budget of the federal Slaughter Improvement Program in 201011, to support the introduction of “new, cost-effective technologies.”

Flaherty also targeted $25 million in 201011 from the fund to support processing plants that handle cattle over 30 months of age.

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