The Olymel-Westco Partnership agrees to Agriculture Minister Ouellette's proposal for mediation and hopes for a timely resolution

SAINT-FRANÇOIS-DE-MADAWASKA, NB, Sept. 2 /CNW Telbec/ - This morning the partnership formed by Olymel and Westco again confirmed its acceptance of the proposal made by New Brunswick Agriculture and Aquaculture Minister Ronald Ouellette to engage in mediation with Maple Lodge. Westco and Olymel both hold out hopes that mediation will result in a winning situation for all concerned. The partnership hopes that Maple Lodge can finally enter into serious discussions in order to find a solution other than through the courts or asking the government to intervene with legislation.

"In order to protect both jobs and the industry, we will participate actively in the mediation process with the same openness that motivated our many proposals to Maple Lodge. We hope to be able to find a solution quickly," noted Westco President and CEO Thomas Soucy.

During the summer, in the aftermath of a decision by the Competition Tribunal recognizing Westco's right to sell its birds to the buyer of its choosing, Olymel and Westco made several new proposals to Maple Lodge. The proposals included an offer to buy the slaughterhouse, a possible partnership agreement involving joint operation, a draft agreement on slaughtering at fair market value during construction of the new slaughterhouse, and payment of a premium along the lines of what Nadeau offers elsewhere. All these offers were rejected.

"Our first choice has always been to process our chickens in New Brunswick, and that is why we have taken all possible measures to preserve jobs in the region while our slaughterhouse is being built by trying to find grounds for agreement with Maple Lodge. The Ontario company has categorically rejected all our offers, and unfortunately, the workers are now paying the price," Mr. Soucy concluded.

About Westco

Groupe Westco inc. is a New Brunswick company with its head office in Saint-François-de- Madawaska. The result of a common vision for expansion by many poultry producers, the company has become a model of success and profitability. Westco owns its own hatcheries, breeding farms, and shipping companies, and is also one of the largest poultry production organizations in Canada. The company has a strong commitment to the community, and sponsors several social programs and contributes to fund-raising initiatives in its region.

About Olymel l.p.

Olymel l.p. is a leader in the slaughtering, processing and distribution of pork and poultry meat products in Canada, with facilities in Québec, Ontario, and Alberta. The company employs more than 10,000 persons and exports nearly half its production, mainly to the United States, Japan and Australia, as well as some sixty other countries. Its sales stood at $2.5 billion this year, with a slaughtering and processing capacity of 160,000 hogs and 1.7 million birds every week. The company markets its products mainly under the Olymel, Lafleur, and Flamingo brands.

SOURCE Olymel l.p.

For further information: For further information: Olymel l.p: Richard Vigneault, Communications, (514) 497-1385, Cell.: (450) 771-0400; Groupe Westco Inc.: Martin Daraiche, Senior Advisor, NATIONAL, Public Relations, (418) 648-1233 extension 230, Cell.: (418) 571-8528

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