Final payments available as packer program winds down

Beef packers that handle cattle older than 30 months (OTMs) may be able to get in on the final round of payments from a federal program to support OTM slaughter capacity.

The federal Abattoir Competitiveness Program will now take applications for final payments to eligible processors, up until a hard deadline of Jan. 31, the government said Wednesday.

Completed applications must be received by the program administration no later than 11:59 p.m. (PST) that day, after which any applications received won’t be considered and no deadline extensions will be granted.

The one-year, $25 million program, budgeted from the federal Agricultural Flexibility fund, offered a funding injection to help cattle slaughterhouses maintain “critical capacity” for Canadian OTMs.

Grants under the program are calculated at 58 kilograms per OTM animal and 55 cents per kilogram of SRM.

The program, which officially expires at the end of March this year, was meant to see packers through the industry’s efforts to become more “innovative and competitive” in dealing with specified risk materials (SRMs), the tissues known to harbour BSE in infected cattle.

Federally-, provincially- and territorially-inspected cattle slaughter facilities that slaughtered OTMs in Canada during the 2009 and 2010 calendar years are eligible for support based on their 2010 production of SRMs from OTMs.

Any applicant who didn’t file for an initial payment can still apply for the final payment — but only on the basis of the abattoir’s production of SRMs from OTMs during the final payment period of July 1 to Dec. 31, 2010.

Initial payments for the first program period, from January to June 2010, are no longer available.

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