$12 million for beef plant
Federal and provincial officials gathered in Charlottetown Sunday to announce a $12-million investment in Atlantic Beef Products, the Maritimes' only federally inspected beef processing plant.
"The government of Canada, through ACOA, is making a one-time, $6-million investment in the future of the Maritime beef industry," said Peter MacKay, the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.
P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, New Brunswick Agriculture Minister Ron Ouelette and Nova Scotia Agriculture Minister Brooke Taylor were also there for the announcement.
Each of those three provinces will contribute $2 million to the plant. The money will be used to develop, market and produce a line of high-end beef products.
Darlene Sanford, president of the P.E.I. Cattle Producers Association, said with higher costs to raise and market their beef, some producers were waiting to see what happened with the plant before committing to another season.
"I've spoken personally to several producers who said they're waiting to fill their feedlots this fall until they know one way or the other," Sanford said after the announcement.
"Today they get an answer to that question so they can make a decision and can carry on from there."
The beef plant, which is in Albany, P.E.I., opened three years ago and has lost $10 million.
Until Sunday, P.E.I. was the only government that had invested in the plant, an amount that stands now at more than $33 million.
Before Sunday, the P.E.I. government's last investment was in June. At that time, Ghiz said there would be no more money for the plant unless other governments stepped up as well.
"I can't control what was done in the past. That was done by a previous government that was basically writing a blank cheque," said Ghiz.
"What I could do was say, 'How do I make this plant viable for the long term, but also protect taxpayers' dollars?' The way to do that was to bring on the other provinces on board, also to bring on the federal government."
Ghiz said the financial outlook for the plant is improving. It was losing $600,000 a month when his government took office. It's still losing money, but now only about $100,000 a month.