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Man. pork co-op to shut assembly yard

The Manitoba Pork Marketing Co-op plans to close its St. Boniface hog assembly yard this Friday after 43 years, as it plans a new location on Winnipeg’s outskirts.

And in light of lower operating costs as a result, the co-op said it will lower its marketing fee starting July 7.

The MPMC, in a release Monday, characterized the facility at 750 Marion St. in Winnipeg’s St. Boniface district as the last holdover from Winnipeg’s time as “Little Chicago,” a Prairie meat packing centre.

At that time, thousands of hogs and cattle were distributed through the St. Boniface Stock Yards for sale, distribution and slaughter, the co-op said.

At its peak, the facility moved up to 7,000 hogs per day to any of six Manitoba packers or to export position, the co-op said, noting Canada Packers, J.M. Schneider, East West Packers, Burns and Jack Forgan Meats had all operated within ” a couple of blocks of this facility,” according to CEO Perry Mohr. Of those packers, he said, not one remains.

Federally inspected pork processing in Manitoba is now done at Maple Leaf Foods’ facility in Brandon, about 200 km west, or at Springhill Farms at Neepawa, about 180 km northwest. Springhill is owned by hog production company Hytek of La Broquerie, Man.

When Maple Leaf shut its Marion Street facility and the OlyWest pork plant, proposed by Hytek and Quebec packer Olymel, was dropped in favour of the Springhill sale, “it became clear that an assembly yard in the heart of Winnipeg was no longer necessary or practical,” the co-op said.

“As far as assembly is concerned, the co-op has moved from a ‘central assembly’ concept to remote ‘satellite operations.'”

The co-op’s Winnipeg facility has now been sold, but because its new owners don’t require the entire building, the co-op said Monday that its head office will remain at the Marion Street site.

Plans are in the works for a new assembly yard on Winnipeg’s outskirts, to go with its other facilities at Neepawa and at New Bothwell, about 40 km southeast of Winnipeg.

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