Expanding Locally Sourced Beef in Northern Ontario through the Co-operative Model (2011-12)

Researcher David Thompson analyzes Northern co-operatives and place-based businesses that support a value chain for local beef. Challenges and opportunities explored include scale, regulations, markets and infrastructure. Read more

David Thompson; April 2012. A Major Research Project submitted to Cape Breton University in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Business Administration in Community Economic Development.


The finding of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle in 2003 and the closure of the US border to Canadian beef, resulted in a financial crisis for Northern Ontario farmers. Fighting for their survival, many farmers turned to local markets and co-operative businesses that add value to their beef products. These enterprises face significant challenges in expanding their operations to coordinate a value chain that effectively meets the needs of member farmers. Critics of the local food movement suggest that local food needs to scale up to capitalize on momentum and broaden accessibility. This critique does not reflect the reality of Northern Ontario value chains since the lack of markets, inadequate infrastructure, and unresponsive regulations limit the sector. Co-operative approaches can support regional agricultural economies experiencing crises sparked by globalization through strengthening stakeholders within the value chain. Further, policies supporting small abattoirs and co-operatives for Northern regions are particularly urgent.

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