TORONTO — Farmer-owned TruHarvest Meats in Toronto, one of the last federally inspected beef packing plants in Ontario, stopped taking cattle for slaughter at the end of January, according to industry insiders.
“TruHarvest has indicated to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency that they have suspended operations until further notice,” the federal agency reported on Feb. 2. CFIA meat inspectors at the plant “will be assigned other duties.”
The Toronto slaughterhouse “unfortunately is closed for the time being,” an Ontario Stockyards sale barn representative at Cookstown told Farmers Forum a day earlier. “That’s all we know.”
It would be a “shame” if the plant closed, Norwood-area beef farmer John Lunn said. Without TruHarvest Meats, there are only two federally-inspected beef facilities in Ontario. There were about six facilities 25 years ago.
Each lost federal facility leaves the industry more reliant on provincially inspected slaughterhouses. Their output can’t be sold legally across provincial or international borders.
Lindsay-area cattle drover and shipper Jeff Grof said the plant stopped taking incoming shipments on Monday, Jan. 30. “The indication I got is that they were going to cease operations for now and look to try and find more investors to start up again,” said Grof, who normally sent a load of cattle to the facility each week for his farmer clients.
“But nothing was definite,” he added. “I’m not exactly sure what their objectives are to try and figure out how to proceed from here.”
Individuals answering the phone Feb. 1 at the TruHarvest plant, located in an industrial park, across the street from St. Helen’s Meat Packers, in the north-end of Toronto, said it was still operating but wasn’t taking cattle that week.
TruHarvest Meats took over the former Ryding Regency facility in 2021, more than a year after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shut the place down. Ryding Regency had run into trouble in the fall of 2019 after numerous recalls of beef for E. coli contamination, culminating in the CFIA terminating the plant’s license.
Forest, Ontario, beef farmer Eugen Burgin, 63, established TruHarvest and revived the idled plant in March 2021 — about 7 months before his November 2021 death from an undisclosed illness. The abattoir traditionally processed as much as 10 % of Ontario’s beef supply, around 2,000 animals per week. Burgin aimed to process 1,600 animals weekly and employ 220 people, according to media accounts at the time.