ICE LAKE—Burt Farms Country Meats of Ice Lake has built an enviable reputation throughout Manitoulin and beyond for high quality and healthy food products, describing themselves as “farmers first and business owners second.” The family-run small business recently received a leg up on a new product line from the Ontario government in the form of a Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation investment, announced at $44,000, to purchase sausage-making equipment.
“Well, the government has an interesting way of adding things up,” chuckled Max Burt, who along with wife Joanne operates the retail farm operation. “That number is based on the original project submission, I think.”
Mr. Burt has a typical farmer’s approach to business and the taxpayer of Ontario is the beneficiary of his cautious spending habits. Although, if purchased new, the equipment could have cost more than $65,000, Mr. Burt took a different route. “We ended up finding a used machine for around $9,000. Add in a few thousand dollars more in parts and a lot of “free” elbow grease, and the project came in closer to $36,000.
“It wound up taking a lot longer than we had originally planned,” admitted Mr. Burt. But there was another side benefit of his approach—he now knows the equipment in very intimate detail. “I would say that is true,” he laughs. “I know just about every nut and bolt pretty well now.”
Although the numbers don’t completely match up to his records, and a good section of the funding does come in the form of a loan, Mr. Burt said that they were “very grateful for the government assistance.”
“The agricultural industry is identified as a key and emerging sector in the Growth Plan for Northern Ontario,” said Minister of Northern Development and Mines and Chair of the NOHFC Michael Gravelle in a press release announcing the investments. “By investing in the establishment and expansion of these farm operations, our government is helping Algoma Manitoulin region farmers increase their crop production and revenues, and grow the local economy.”
The release notes that those investments will “create jobs on local farms and contribute to sustainable farming.”
Through the announcement, the NOHFC is investing $170,000 in the region. The other recipients are: The Northern Ontario Garlic Farm, which is receiving $106,000 to establish a garlic farm on St. Joseph’s Island and Big Point Farm in Hilton Beach, which received $25,000 to establish a sustainable farm operation selling local produce.