Blue Goose winding down all its Manitoulin beef operations

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MANITOULIN—Blue Goose has announced it is winding down all of its beef operations on Manitoulin Island.

“This very difficult decision was made following an in-depth review of the long-term viability of our beef business on Manitoulin Island,” stated Jean Lepine, EVP, Risk Management and Communications with Blue Goose on Friday of last week.

“We have decided to focus our resources in growing our aquaculture business on Manitoulin, led by Mike Meeker,” Mr. Lepine told the Recorder. “Over the next several months we will do our very best to help the affected employees find work within the Blue Goose operations on Manitoulin and will transition our 1,300 head of cattle humanely to other farmers.”

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“Like all new companies with growth plans, you have to sometimes make difficult decisions to protect the long-term viability of the entire business,” explained Mr. Lepine. “Blue Goose is no different and has to make the best decisions it can to protect the future of our land, our people and the animals. We believe we have a very bright future across all three proteins (fish, beef and chicken) and our aquaculture business on Manitoulin is growing according to our plans.”

“Over the next several months we’ll be doing our best to help the employees find other positions within Blue Goose,” said Mr. Lepine. He pointed out this relates to five employees on Manitoulin Island. “The secondary work is to transition the cattle, humanely, to other owners, on and off the Island.”

“We have a very bright future in fish, chicken and beef overall in the company, and for our operations on Manitoulin we want to put more of our focus on the aquaculture component,” said Mr. Lepine. He said that all five of the affected Blue Goose employees were informed of the decision on Thursday of last week.

Jim Martin will be leading the transition, said Mr. Lepine. He added, “all of this will not happen overnight, it will take a little bit of time.”

“On a positive note, to improve the efficiency of our aquaculture business we are investing on Burnt Island to restore and repair the pre-existing fish hatchery on the Purvis property,” continued Mr. Lepine. “In time, this will allow us to get closer to our dream of vertical integration of our fish operations on Manitoulin. In the first phase, the Burnt Island facility will allow us to farm fingerlings (fish) and will eventually transition to a fish hatchery. This Burnt Island operation will complement other aquaculture investments we have already made on Manitoulin.”

“The decision (on its Island beef operations) was tough—it was a hard decision to make and we are trying to redeploy all the employees across the rest of the business,” said Mr. Lepine. “Our focus right now is on the people involved and its animals.”

As for its ownership of Carter Bay and buildings such as the former Espanola and District Credit Union and the former V and S store in Gore Bay, Mr. Lepine said, “we haven’t made any concrete plans about what we are going to do with the buildings or the property. We will be winding down our beef operations and refocussing on aquaculture, but no decisions have been made as of yet on the property or buildings.”

therecorder@bellnet.ca