Last month’s fire at Quinn’s Meats in Yarker has had a devastating impact on the farming industry in the region, forcing meat producers to seek new venues for slaughtering their meat. At least one farm has been forced to close down entirely.

Once one of the few abattoirs in the region, Quinn’s Meats is now nothing more than a charred memory. Farms that relied on its services have been left scrambling—or worse.

“It was a couple of really hard days to decide what we wanted to do, but at the end of it, who knows what the future is bringing, right? It could be six months, it could be a year, it could be two years,” said Shanna Stas of Thorpe Farms.

Thorpe Farms, a hobby farm near Odessa, was forced to shut down altogether, selling off their livestock except for two goats.

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Despite the tragedy, the owners of Quinn’s are determined to rebuild. They told Global News they’re exploring every possible avenue to resurrect the business, including the farm at Joyceville Penitentiary, where an abattoir once operated.

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“Well, it would definitely help, you know, assuming that we could get in and get all the equipment in, we could basically pick right back up on all of the local processing that we were doing,” said Kara Enright of Quinn’s.

However, any such arrangement might be a long shot. In an email to Global News, Correctional Services Canada stated, “CSC is still currently exploring options for future use of the building, so any conversations/discussions would be nothing more than exploratory.”

The loss of Quinn’s highlights a bigger issue: the decreasing number of licensed abattoirs in Ontario. According to Thorpe’s, there were over 300 across the province a decade ago, but now there are just over 100, creating a bottleneck in the industry.

“I don’t see anything changing in the foreseeable future. Again, there was no help from local or federal governments in order to help the farmers in the region. And I just could see it continuing to get worse,” said Shanna Stas.

As for the cause of the blaze that destroyed Quinn’s, the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office is still investigating.