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Federal slaughter loan forms available

The paperwork is now available for the federal government’s loan program to improve operations in Canada’s red meat packing operations.

The program, first announced in the federal budget in January, is meant to support investments made by private firms and provincial or local governments in “sound business plans aimed at reducing costs, increasing revenues and improving operations” at packing plants.

The loans are interest-free and “conditionally repayable,” the government said on the program’s website, where forms are available for downloading.

The program, budgeted for $50 million over three years, is to focus on leveraging investment in “operational improvements” and modernizing facilities, and also to “enhance slaughter capacity in regions that have a demonstrated regional gap that is constraining sector growth.”

The term “demonstrated regional gap” would likely apply in jurisdictions such as Manitoba, for example, where producers were left with little if any access to federally-inspected slaughter capacity after the U.S. border closed to Canadian cattle in 2003.

The program, delivered nationally by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, will loan up to 50 per cent of eligible costs, for projects that must be completed by March 31, 2012.

The deadline for the first round of applications is Aug. 21, after which applications must be submitted by Oct. 30 to be reviewed as part of the second round. Any further applications would be considered based on the availability of funds, the government said.

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