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MRC Pontiac funds support bid for abattoir

by Sophie Kuijper Dickson
Shawville
Mar. 13, 2024
The MRC Pontiac has confirmed it has offered financial support to a bid that was placed for the purchase of local Abattoir les Viandes du Pontiac.
The business assets were listed for sale after it filed for bankruptcy protection last month.
At a special meeting on Wednesday the MRC’s Council of Mayors voted in favour of a motion that enabled the MRC to use funding from components 3 and 4 of the Fonds regions et ruralité (FRR) to “finance certain steps aimed at maintaining the slaughterhouse’s activities on the territory,” as the motion read.
The deadline to submit a bid for purchasing the business was last Friday, Mar. 15. Bids for purchase were submitted to the bankruptcy trustee, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton.
On Monday, the MRC’s economic director for agriculture Shanna Armstrong confirmed a bid had been placed with the support from the MRC.
“We would never usually have money just sitting that we could use to put a bid in on a project like that, but because it sits so perfectly with a project that is already underway with the MRC, this was an opportunity that we could potentially try and help save the abattoir,” Armstrong explained.
The money used to support the bid was taken from a pot of funding originally intended for the AgriSaveur food transformation project the MRC currently has underway.
Armstrong said the MRC saw investing in keeping the abattoir operating as complementary to the original intention of the AgriSaveur project – supporting local farmers in transforming their agricultural products so they can sell them directly to consumers.

She could not share how much money the MRC had contributed towards the bid that was submitted “because nothing is finalized yet.”
While she was not able to share any names, Armstrong said once the news broke of the abattoir’s potential closure, a handful of local producers approached the MRC to find a way to keep it running.
Closure could pose big problems for local producers
The abattoir opened in Shawville in 2018. It specializes in slaughtering animals, and butchering and packaging the meat.
The next closest abattoir to offer these services is in Thurso, Que.
As the only abattoir in the Pontiac, its presence makes it possible for some local animal farmers to sell their meat directly to consumers at a more competitive cost.
Gema Villavicencio raises yaks on her Bristol farm, Pure Conscience.
“We pretty much depend on the abattoir for the slaughtering of our yaks. We’ve never tried anywhere else,” she said.
“We’re so lucky to have the abattoir five to 10 minutes away from us, compared to having to drive them for an hour or two away. The quality of the meat would just not be the same, and the cost is also affected by how long you have to travel to slaughter your animals.”
She said she believes the abattoir is integral to the community, both because of the service it offers and the employment it generates locally.
Phil Holmes sells baskets of a variety of butchered meats from animals he raises on his farm in Clarendon to 30 clients every month.
He said in addition to the inevitable price increase he will have to adopt if the abattoir closes, he is concerned about where he will get this year’s beef butchered, and he believes many farmers would be in the same boat.
“Usually if you want to get in with the abattoir in Thurso, you need to book it a year ahead,” Holmes explained, noting this is due to high demand at the abattoir.
Having passed the typical period where he would book his time slots for butchering, he is worried it will be challenging to find a facility willing to do the job.

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