Farmersville Community Abattoir (FCA) is a not-for-profit corporation that was conceived in February 2016 to address an urgent need in Leeds and Grenville and surrounding counties for livestock slaughter services to local farmers.
The purpose of FCA is to provide a long-term, secure and reliable service to farmers so they may better plan and operate their farm businesses.
Opened in October 2016, FCA now provides weekly slaughter, meat cutting and packaging services. Slaughter is done each Wednesday, year round.
Eastern Ontario has lost 40 percent of its provincially licensed slaughterhouses since 2005. Of the currently remaining 16 slaughterhouses comprising the area between Kingston to the west, Pembroke to the north, and all points east to the Quebec border, only ten offer slaughter for cattle, sheep, goats and swine.
In February 2016, Rideau Meats of Smiths Falls (one of the largest facilities serving the counties of Leeds and Grenville, Frontenac, Lanark and Ottawa-Carleton) closed its doors. They processed about 2,000 animals annually for 1,000 customers. This facility operated at full capacity with a long waiting list. The two remaining full service slaughterhouses within a 90 minute drive of the area are working at peak capacity. This means that animals ready for slaughter may have to wait months before they can be slaughtered. The cost to farmers is substantial.
Meanwhile, over the past twelve years, there has been a trend supporting local food and a twelve percent increase in the number of farmers’ markets in Ontario. Established markets are expanding in both months of operation (winter markets) and numbers of vendors spurred by increasing consumer demand for locally produced meat and produce. A new wave of farmers is stepping up to meet this demand. Services to farmers should be increasing, not decreasing.
The former Athens Meat Packers plant had been out of operation for almost four years. Built in 1996, the Plant is one of the newer facilities in Ontario. It has an expansive livestock holding area and an easy-access circular drive for unloading. The facility has the capacity to hold up to 200 sides of beef for chilling/aging. Nonetheless, it required considerable attention to become operational under current provincial regulations for slaughterhouses.
Located at 63 Addison Road near the town of Athens (formerly known as Farmersville), one and a half hours southwest of Ottawa, one hour northeast of Kingston, it is ideally positioned to fill the gap in slaughter services.
Farmersville Community Abattoir will operate in perpetuity as a not-for-profit corporation with a Board of Directors and a voting membership. It will initially accept a range of domestic farm animals, including cattle, lamb, sheep, goats and swine. There may be an opportunity in the future to establish a poultry service as well.
There is great potential to make this facility into a model for progressive livestock processing. Under the direction of the Board, staff and membership, FCA will look to break new ground.
Farmersville Community Abattoir may work toward becoming the first ‘certified humane’ slaughterhouse in Canada. Following the guidelines of Dr Temple Grandin, FCA may refit the animal receiving and holding area to ensure the best possible experience for both animals and handlers.
Farmersville Community Abattoir may take full advantage of its expansive roof top to install solar panels to meet all of its electrical needs.
Farmersville Community Abattoir may look to become a provincial training facility for new butchers.
Funding and Governance
Capital costs for the purchase and repairs required to open have been sourced through a combination of loans, membership fees and donations. Purchase of additional equipment is being sourced through funding programs and/or donations. Operating costs are being covered by user fees.
By operating as a not-for-profit slaughterhouse, local farmers can be assured of a stable facility that will withstand regulatory changes. The Abattoir will have access to funding that may not be available to a privately owned facility. Voting members will be able to influence decision-making to ensure FCA stays true to their needs.
Donations and Memberships
FCA has received a combination of donations and memberships from farmers, restaurateurs, chefs, butchers, retailers and concerned consumers. A $1,000 membership gives the member a vote at the Annual General Meeting, hence, a say in decisions for the future of FCA. Livestock farmers who become voting members will also be entitled to priority scheduling for slaughter. Donations of any denomination continue to be welcome.
The project is spearheaded by Barbara Schaefer, a local farmer of pasture-raised heritage breed pigs. With her extensive background in not-for-profit management and fundraising, she secured the funds for the initial purchase of the slaughterhouse and for making upgrades necessary prior to opening. She continues to oversee the operations of FCA.
Paul Bernicky is the Manager/Lead Butcher. Paul has 35 years of experience as a butcher and has worked at the Plant under previous ownership. He is dedicated to the success of FCA and was instrumental in getting the Plant ready for the OMAFRA licensing inspection.
Bernie Barber is the original owner and builder of the facility. He has intimate knowledge of every aspect of the building and its operations. He is an experienced butcher and former slaughterhouse inspector with the Government of Ontario. He now works with FCA as a butcher, consultant and mentor.
Services offered include slaughter, custom cutting and wrapping. Vacuum packaging, weighing and labeling equipment are now available. Sausages, curing and smoking are also offered.
See price list for details.
Board of Directors 2017/18
Barbara Schaefer, Chair