Future of Poultry Plant Uncertain

NOVA SCOTIA - Negotiations are underway to save ACA, the province's only chicken processing plant and hundreds of jobs. Talks with a potential partner are on-going.
calendar icon 10 October 2008
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ACA Co-operative Ltd., which has 650 employees, is in the midst of a major restructuring that could see it join forces with a big Ontario company, reports CBC.

Workers at the Annapolis Valley plant are hopeful.

"This plant is my livelihood," said Angela Saunders, of Black Rock, who has worked for ACA for 10 years. "It helps me support my family, provide a roof over their heads."

The co-op first opened in 1943. When Maple Leaf Foods, the province's other poultry plant, closed last year, ACA was unable to absorb the supply. About 40 per cent of Nova Scotia's chickens are now trucked to a plant near Edmundston, New Brunswick.

A consultant's report concluded that for ACA to survive, it needs to secure more of the three million kilograms of poultry that moves to New Brunswick every eight weeks.

To do that, ACA has entered into an exclusive negotiation with Ontario-based Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. that would see that company become a 50 per cent owner of ACA's poultry operations.

Late last month, ACA called a meeting with all of Nova Scotia's 81 chicken producers in an effort to convince the industry to keep more poultry within the province. The Nova Scotia Chicken Farmers Association tells CBC News its negotiations with ACA have been productive.

The provincial government lent ACA C$3.5 million last month. The money, from the industrial expansion fund, was for the company to develop its products and find more customers.

With talks underway with Maple Lodge, Saunders has high hopes. "That could be an investment for ACA," he said. "If that's what it takes to keep the jobs, that's a good decision."

Gary Morse, with the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce, is also hopeful, saying "ACA has a significant impact on our economy, with almost 700 jobs. They are the only processing plant in Nova Scotia. With so many jobs and spinoff jobs, the impact on the economy is very, very large."

Both ACA and Maple Lodge have agreed not to discuss the negotiations until they are concluded.

The talks are expected to wrap up by the end of November, according to the CBC report.

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