CTV News Northern Ontario: New FedNor funding announced for Algoma region agri-food sector

The agri-food sector in Northern Ontario got a significant boost today from the federal government.

Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan visited Rico’s Foods, where he announced more than $950,000 for two Algoma region organizations.

“What we learned here today is that the agricultural business in Northern Ontario and the district of Algoma is alive and well, and growing,” said Sheehan.

The bulk – $721,530 – went to the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), to create and deliver a program dubbed RAMP; short for Responsive Advancement for Meat Processing.

David Thompson, RAIN Manager, explained the funds will be distributed to 20 northern Ontario businesses eligible for the money.

“(It will) advance new technology, and purchase equipment that’ll help these plants be more efficient. The funding will also be for management training… as well as productivity studies.”

Among the 20 businesses that RAIN is dispersing money to is Rico’s Foods, which received $25,000.

After 35 years in business, Rico’s Foods owner, Richard Palarchio, says this will help the company to expand its online footprint, and its inventory of products.

“It allows us to diversify into some other types of foods. We normally do pastas and meatballs and things. This allows us to get into the cured meat business and see how that can add to our current base of foods.”

The Penokean Hills Co-Operative received the remaining $230,000, to upgrade its feed yard.

Mike Tulloch, a member of the Co-op’s Board of Directors, says the paved lot leads to a better life for the livestock, eventually leading to higher prices upon their sale.

“It’s got the animals up out of the earth, off the earth, which gets wet when it rains, and muddy, and got them on dry concrete. And so it creates for a more relaxed, comfortable environment for them which improves their rate of gain on a daily basis.”

The funding means the creation of 11 full-time jobs, two part-time jobs and it will help maintain employment for 35.

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