Slaughterhouse comes up short

CANADA - THREE years after the idea of a Manitoba beef-slaughtering plant was hatched, the group's financing has hit a wall that could end the dream for the province's ranchers.
calendar icon 22 December 2006
clock icon 2 minute read
Manitoba Agriculture Minister Rosann Wowchuk said Thursday the government would not come up with more than the $4.5 million in equity and $10 million in loans it has promised Ranchers Choice Beef Co-operative Ltd. The Dauphin group had asked the province to increase its contribution to $18.5 million in equity and to guarantee $17 million worth of loans.

Wowchuk said Ranchers Choice was essentially asking the province to finance virtually the entire $38 million enterprise.

"We have looked at the package and we could not agree to the term sheet they put forward," Wowchuk said. "However, we still recognize the need to increase slaughter capacity in the province. That's why are keeping our money on the table."

The initiative began as way to secure slaughter capacity for Manitoba producers after the BSE crisis closed the border to the United States in 2003. Most of Manitoba's cattle were being slaughtered in the U.S. She said what the board of Ranchers Choice does next is up to them, and that producers could still come to the table with a larger commitment.

"The problem is, there is no equity and there is not enough cattle committed to this facility," she said. "This is very disappointing to me. People have worked very hard to move this project forward. But we can't continue to fund without other partners at the table."

Source: Winnipeg Free Press
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