British Columbia to Require Improved On-Farm Animal Slaughter Training


Farmers want better access to slaughter options, not red tape.

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BC farmers who want to slaughter animals on their own property must take a new food safety training course.

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The Ministry of Agriculture’s announcement is the latest in a series of changes to British Columbia’s slaughter system, which has been criticized by small producers who say bureaucracy is preventing them from meeting a demand growing local meat.

“It’s a first step,” said Julia Smith, owner of Blue Sky Ranch near Merritt and a member of the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association. “What we really hope to see is that the whole province is opening up to on-farm slaughter.

BC farmers have faced restrictions on the slaughter of their own animals since the mad cow crisis of 2003. In areas where there is no provincially approved abattoir within a distance Reasonable by car, farmers can apply for a Class D or E license, which limits them to killing a small number of animals that can only be sold in their regional district.

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SlaughterRight, the new training program announced by the provincial government this week, provides self-guided training for Class D and E slaughterhouses with a focus on improving food safety, slaughter hygiene, animal welfare and meat storage.

Farmers must also develop a food safety and humane slaughter plan, as well as a set of standard operating procedures specific to their slaughterhouse.

In December, the Ministry of Agriculture took over the administration and inspection of Class D and E facilities from local health authorities as part of ongoing efforts to modernize BC’s slaughter system. .

Smith said small meat producers welcome the changes, but the province needs to go further.

“Our members offer a level of transparency rarely seen in the conventional meat industry, so we welcome anything that helps us meet the already high standards for human handling and safe, quality meat,” he said. she declared.

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But she wants to see the training accompanied by a plan to increase slaughter capacity in B.C.

“I was doing the math last night. I understood that I could make one beef cow per month and four pigs per month with a Class D license, ”she said. “It is not an economically viable option for me.”

The new regulations also do little to help farmers who live in regional districts such as the Lower Mainland, where farmers do not qualify for a Class D or E permit and cannot get appointments at an inspected facility. by the province.

In October, Kendall Ballantine, owner of Central Park Farms in Langley, decided to shut down her business because it was too difficult to get slaughter and butchery services.

“I hate to be the one telling you, but if we can’t produce it in BC, surely people can’t Buy BC,” she wrote in an open letter to the Ministry of Agriculture on next month. “I’ve fought this with everything I’ve had over the past two years knowing that I was building a great business on the terrible foundation of the slaughterhouse shortage and regulatory issues.

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“I am now at peace with the idea that I will get my life back and no longer have to work insane hours knowing at all times that I could lose my business because of this problem. “

Ballantine, who was named a 2018 Langley Chamber of Commerce ‘Under-40 Businessman of the Year’, said she was a “34-year-old first-generation Indigenous farmer and farm owner. Which produced over 100,000 pounds of meat for his community on Langley and Rock Creek lands.

To get her animals slaughtered, she sometimes had to make a 16-hour round trip to deliver her steers to a slaughterhouse, followed the next day by a 13-hour round trip for her pigs.

Ballantine, who did not respond to an interview request, said she made slaughter appointments before her animals were born to make sure she could get some time. Even so, she sometimes had to overwinter animals that could not be processed, resulting in increased feed expenses.

“I don’t even want to go into the cost of this,” she said. “I’m literally going to pay to feed my community because British Columbia doesn’t have the supports in place to get safe treatment for its farmers. “

  1. Some BC farmers are downsizing or leaving the industry because they can't get their animals slaughtered, said Julia Smith, president of the Small-Scale Meat Producers Association.

    The Field-to-Fork Gap: Lack of Slaughter Capacity Causes Some BC Farmers to Give Up, Others to Reduce

  2. Nicol Watson at the Tsawwassen First Nation Agricultural School.  A former student, Watson now owns a small farm plot where she grows vegetables for her community.

    “The original farmers”: interest in the renewal of First Nations agriculture

  3. The start of the strawberry season is a shortcut to the arrival of summer in BC Francisco de la Cruz and Cesar Castro present strawberries at Maan Farms in Abbotsford, BC on June 1, 2020. Across the board across the province, farmers across sectors face labor shortages, along with additional costs and tough decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Too busy to worry: COVID-19 is forcing BC farmers to adapt

– with Postmedia files

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