The Rainy River District Regional Abattoir in Emo has been recognized with a Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence.
“It’s humbling to be recognized and its also gratifying,” said Steve Loshaw, president of the Rainy River District Abattoir Inc. “And I say that on behalf of the whole board, they worked hard to get there, and it’s nice to see recognition.”
“I am pleased to recognize these local innovators with these awards,” stated Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, in the province’s official statement.
“Their vision and hard work show us how integral our agri-food sector and our rural communities are to this province,” he added.
Now in its fourth year, the $2.5-million awards program recognizes up to 55 organizations annually with a case prize of $5,000 each.
The provincial recognition highlighted the “hands-on approach, planning and management” which led to the construction of the not-for-profit facility, which processes beef, pork, sheep, elk and bison and has a handling system which includes an ear tag reader that “enhances food traceability.”
“Now that the region has its own facility, it eliminates the need for livestock to be transported up to six hours away for processing,” noted the province’s press release. “The abattoir has been designed so that it can be easily upgraded in the future to a federal facility, which will enable broader product sales as demand increases.
“Local producers see this innovative approach as a boon for agricultural sustainability in the region.”
Loshaw accepted the award on behalf of the Abattoir at a ceremony held last Thursday in Thunder Bay, alongside the other regional winner—Mountain Fresh Farm in Kakabeka Falls.
“We’ve got lots of projects that haven’t been completed yet so we’ll work towards those,” noted Loshaw about what the $5,000 prize money will be going towards the abattoir.
Since first starting operations back in February, the abattoir has been “going steady,” said Loshaw, including receiving a double A rating as part of the province’s annual audits of all abattoirs in Ontario.
As for the future, Loshaw noted that the next goal for the abattoir includes assisting producers by working to expand and develop markets for their produce.