Manitoba cattle producers have nothing to show for the $3.9 million they contributed to the Keystone Processors beef plant through the Manitoba Cattle Enhancement Council, according to the Progressive Conservative agriculture critic.
"The building has been taken down and there's nothing left but a pile of rubble. It certainly begs the question of what has happened to the producers money - the $3.9 million. I understand that some could have been used in design and so on but an explanation from the minister should be forthcoming," says Cliff Graydon.
In November 2009, the Cattle Enhancement Council pledged $7.5 million of its own funding to go along with Ottawa's $10 million through the federal Slaughter Improvement Program. Last month, it was announced the federal money had been re-allocated after Keystone Processors' business plan failed to meet program requirements.
Manitoba Beef Producers is calling for an end to the two dollar per head check-off that cattle producers currently pay to MCEC.
"There's nothing to show for that money...you wonder what the plan is here," says Graydon. "The provincial government was matching the contribution of two dollars per head by the producers. They made a three year commitment to to that and had honoured that commitment. But in saying this, the deputy minister is the chairman of MCEC and the expenses of MCEC over the life of its existence have eaten up about half of the contributions."
MCEC says it is working with private investors to build a new niche federally-inspected slaughter facility that would process between 250 and 500 head per day. Executive director Kate Butler says the project is at a stage of development where they could be only thirty days away from laying footings for the new plant.