Industry group seeks to shorten two week shutdown of Nova Scotia poultry plant
Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia seeking options for processing plant in Berwick
The provincial government needs to speed up COVID-19 testing and look for options to shorten the planned two-week shutdown of a poultry processing plant in Berwick, the Chicken Farmers of Nova Scotia said earlier this week.
The head of the organization, Thom Oulton, said the closure of the only federal chicken-processing plant in the province was a concern for both farmers and consumers.
COVID-19 cases among employees
“It’s hard for us to agree that a 14-day shutdown is necessary when we don’t know how widespread the problem is,” Oulton said in a statement.
The province closed Eden valley Poultry last week following an outbreak of COVID-19 cases among employees.
“We have no evidence of community spread at this point, but we have to act fast, ” Premier Stephen McNeil said.
Advised to be tested as a precaution
As of Saturday, six employees had tested positive and were self-isolating. Public health authorities urged residents living between New Minas and Middleton were advised to be tested as a precaution. While protecting everyone’s health had to be top priority, Oulton said, the security of the food supply was also important and the shutdown needed to be as short as possible.
“Consumers are counting on farmers to supply them with a steady, safe supply of quality local chicken,” he said. “Every day the plant is down has the potential to put our local food supply at risk.”
The plant has about 450 employees. Oulton said the industry was looking to processing plants in New Brunswick and Quebec for help during the shutdown.
“We want the government working with the plant to look at all available options,” he said.