“We were all independent farmers who wanted to move forward in the marketplace. But we knew if we were to continue to grow and stay current in the industry, we couldn’t do it on our own,” said Elmer MacDonald, one of the owners of MacDonald Brothers farm.
Thirty-five years ago, MacDonald, Morley Wood and six other farmers decided to start Mid-Isle Farms.
“What we did took a lot of courage at the time. Consolidation wasn’t something that was a common option when we decided to start this company.”
Wood added, “We all had small operations and we still do, which allows this to be a self-sustained company.”
Today the company is a successful fresh potato packaging plant.
“It all started in a shop. We were all sitting around and decided we could do better if we came together. At that time, we couldn’t afford to bring the technology in to be on the leading edge as individuals. But as a group we could.”
From there, the farmers decided to build an infrastructure that would allow for today’s packaging and storing operations.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced its $400,000 repayable contribution to Mid-Isle through the Business Development Program.
“With a 30-plus-year history, this company knows the importance of relationships and ideas. And as a team, you are open to investment and increasing your exports,” said Malpeque MP Wayne Easter who made the funding announcement.
“Now more than ever economic growth depends on working smarter, diversifying and paying particular attention to innovation.”
The funding will allow Mid-Isle Farms to carry out necessary upgrades to its current production facility as well as invest in additional bagging and bailing equipment to meet demand during peaks.
Easter added, “The farming sector is always on the cutting edge of technology. Whether that’s GPS in tractors and planters or in the packaging plants like this. You have to be in order to gain the efficiency any way you can and meet what the consumer is demanding.”
The new equipment includes an automatic weight bagger.
“It has a series of cells which are kept full of potatoes at all times. Depending on the weight that you program into the system – whether it’s a 10-pound bag or five-pound bag – the computer choose which combination of cells are required to fill that bag.
“This allows us to be as current in the industry as we can and be more productive.”
MacDonald says the machine will increase efficiency.
“Before we would have to change the equipment each time we changed the (bag) size, but now all of this can be done simply, which is important in today’s industry. There isn’t just one truckload of all the same sized packages. Now there are variations that the consumer will want.”