Health minister unavailable to discuss meat rules

Lobbying for farm-gate meat processing has been stalled in the North Okanagan.

Regional District of North Okanagan directors hoped to talk to Health Minister Michael de Jong in Kelowna Tuesday to discuss provincial meat regulations but de Jong’s schedule did not allow for a meeting.

“I will contact the minister and set something up as soon as I can,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

RDNO wants the Ministry of Health and the Interior Health Authority to begin issuing class D and E meat inspection licences in the North Okanagan.

A class D licence allows for the on-farm slaughter of up to 25 animal units with one animal unit equaling 1,000 pounds liveweight. That would mean 25 cows, 2,500 chickens, 40 pigs and 300 lambs. A class E licence allows for the slaughter of up to 10 animal units.

There has been previous suggestions that such licenses could be issued to North Okanagan farmers but that has never occurred.

Regional district officials claim the number of local producers has gone from 1,200 to 300 since the provincial regulations came into effect in 2007.

Foster says he understands the concerns of the local politicians and farmers.

“I was involved in this issue before I became MLA and I championed the cause,” said the former Lumby mayor and RDNO chairperson.

“We have to do something for smaller operations.”

Foster would not speculate on why the government has been reluctant to issue class D and E licenses in the North Okanagan.

"I can’t answer that. I’m trying to get an answer to that myself,” he said.



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