The BC government has released an intentions paper and is seeking input on how to make slaughter more accessible and viable for livestock producers.
Fields across the Central Kootenay have long been home to assorted grazing animals. From the earliest settlers here, livestock have made important contributions to farm income streams, community food security and to soil fertility. For many people in rural and urban communities, the provisioning of food has included the culture and practice of sourcing meat directly from the farmers who raise the animals.
The change in the BC Meat Inspection Regulations, implemented in 2007, changed all that. Suddenly, a long-standing practice was illegal: farm raised meat could no longer be sold or even given away unless it had been processed in a licensed abattoir. In 2007, no such abattoirs existed in our region. According to a 2008 survey of farmers in Areas E, G, H, and I, 98% of the livestock producers had either reduced or completely eliminated their animals due to the inability to legally slaughter them.
Following a great deal of effort and huge investments, the Central Kootenay now has two licensed abattoirs, one processing chicken and the other cattle, pigs and sheep. Both are located in the Creston Valley. As a result, large portions of the Central Kootenay still do not have ready access to abattoirs.
There may be reason to hope that this can change. The Ministry of Agriculture has circulated a Rural Slaughter Intentions Paper, seeking input from British Columbians on how to make slaughter more accessible and viable for livestock producers.
The tone and content of the paper is encouraging but the best outcome of the consultation process depends on submissions from those who wish to see rural meat supply chains legally re-established at a level that could actually serve both the volume of livestock and the level of demand amongst consumers.
Please take the time to read the Intentions Paper and then let the government know what you think. Comments are due by November 16, 2020 and can be submitted by email to email@example.com. See the report for more details on how to submit feedback.