Inspection station idle since BSE crisis

The plight of the district cattle inspection station still remains to be seen as it continues to struggle for survival year after year.
The station, located at the border in Rainy River just east of Canada Customs, saw very little usage last year due to the discovery of mad cow disease last May in Alberta and again last month in Washington.
The closure of the U.S. border to live Canadian cattle saw everything grind to a halt at the station, which has been struggling to be self-sustaining for a number of years.
Prior to last spring’s discovery of a single “mad cow” in Alberta, the station had been used to export 23 animals to the U.S. and import three to Canada. That brought in $169 in revenue.
At last year’s annual meeting of the Rainy River Cattlemen’s Association, members suggested they hold back their check-off fees to the province in order to try and garner government funding to operate the station.
Later in the year, the RRCA received $5,000 in funding from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. to operate the inspection station.
After expenses, the RRCA was left with $2,631.96 to operate the station this year (the NOHFC money was a one-time grant).
RRCA member Archie Wiersema said the station has been virtually scaled back to absolute closure. “We had the water turned off in December to save money on utilities,” he noted.
They also opted not to put new sawdust and shavings on the station floor after the U.S. border closed to live cattle.
RRCA president Peter Spuzak said local MP Robert Nault promised them $50,000 in operating dollars for the station before the last federal election.
“Since then, we have heard nothing,” he added.
RRCA past president Tom Morrish said the land the station sits on is owned by the Ministry of Transportation and has been declared surplus by the province. As such, the RRCA is hoping to acquire it for as little cost as possible.
They are currently dealing with the Ontario Realty Corp. on that matter.
With the U.S. border closed and no commitment from government for operating dollars, RRCA members have begun to look at other alternatives to keep the station in the black.
RRCA member Jim McDermid said there have been discussions with the new vet at the Nor-West Animal Clinic in Fort Frances about setting up a regularly-visited satellite office in Rainy River to deal with small animals like cats and dogs.
It was suggested the inspection station’s office could serve those needs.
Nothing has been etched in stone, but the RRCA said it will continue to work on that angle.