North Okanagan officials are demanding changes to the province's meat processing rules.

North Okanagan officials are demanding changes to the province's meat processing rules.

Minister urged to throw lifeline to farmers ‘hurting’ over meat regulations

North Okanagan politicians will meet with Michael de Jong Friday

Local politicians will finally have a chance to defend the interests of farm families and the economy.

Regional District of North Okanagan representatives will meet Health Minister Michael de Jong Friday in West Kelowna to discuss the impact of meat regulations on processors and producers.

“Local farmers need action,” said chairperson Patrick Nicol at RDNO’s Wednesday board meeting.

A meeting was scheduled for last month but it was cancelled because of de Jong’s schedule.

RDNO wants the Ministry of Health and the Interior Health Authority to issue class D and E meat inspection licences in the region.

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.

While it has been suggested previously that such licenses could be issued to North Okanagan farmers, that has never occurred.

It’s believed the number of local meat producers has gone from 1,200 to 300 since the provincial regulations came into effect in 2007.

“They can’t turn down licences over and over. They (farmers) are hurting,” said Nicol.

Among those who will meeting with de Jong is Janice Brown, Spallumcheen director, who is increasingly concerned with the plight of farmers in her community.

“They are bringing policies in and they have no idea of what the impact is,” she said of the government.