Kings West MLA Leo Glavine says news of layoffs at O.H. Armstrong Limited in Kingston means 14 people are without work and is another setback for the province’s farm community.
“This is very unfortunate news for the employees and families who have lost their livelihood,” says Glavine. “These job losses will impact our community at a time when our rural economy is already suffering.”
Glavine argues that the closure of the facility will also impact the availability of local food and the momentum the local food movement has been generating.
“Local food advocates should be concerned with this closure – as Nova Scotians, we all should,” says Glavine. “Less availability of locally produced meat and more reliance on food products from outside our province will not benefit our province in the short or long term.
Glavine says the province’s agricultural sector is under significant pressure and the need to find a way forward for this industry is at a critical point.
“Where is the provincial response here?” asked Glavine. “We simply can’t let our agricultural sector wither and die - the province needs to take more proactive measures with the agricultural industry before it starts to face a crisis like that currently faced by the pulp and paper industry.”
Glavine is holding a meeting with farm community and local livestock producers on Monday at 7 p.m. at the Driftwood Restaurant meeting room in Berwick. Representatives from the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture will also be attending.
Glavine remains hopeful a representative from government will be on hand for the discussion as well.
By Nancy Kelly
An agriculture sector under pressure and a dwindling supply of local livestock for production has lead O.H. Armstrong Limited in Kingston to discontinue it slaughter operations.
The decision means 14 employees who work on the company’s kill floor will lose their jobs on Jan. 25. Those affected are a combination of skilled meat cutters and unskilled labour.
Armstrong general manager Ted Devitt confirmed the action was taken out of economic necessity.
“It is no longer economically feasible to operate a kill operation. We had to let it go.”
Devitt said the move came as no surprise in the industry.
“When we informed the department of agriculture, the resounding response was ‘how have you hung on this long?” reported Devitt.
He added the company has been “hoping for the best over the past two years” and trying to keep the kill service for local producers.
“It is an unfortunate situation and we felt a responsibility to our farmers, but when the (local meat) supply dwindles there is little that can be done.”
Devitt explained Armstrongs needed to slaughter 250 animals per week to meet their production quotas. The company has been averaging only 15-30 animals a week from the local market and been forced to purchase meat from outside suppliers to meet production. With the closure of the kill floor, all meat will come from purchased sources.
While slaughtering on site is no longer an option, Devitt pointed out other facets of Armstrong’s business “are solid” and will remain unchanged.
“O.H. Armstrong will remain a local meat processing facility. That is not going to change,” stressed Devitt.
The company is a provincially inspected meat processor which produces a line of specialty and portion-controlled beef and pork items at the Kingston production facility. It is also a full service food distributor catering to the food service industry in Nova Scotia.
The business was originally established in the early 1900s.
For more, see Tuesday's edition of The Advertiser