More slaughter licenses demanded

Small-scale meat producers in the Regional District of North Okanagan can now apply for one of five class E licenses

Meat processing is moving ahead, but local politicians insist it’s not enough.

Small-scale meat producers in the Regional District of North Okanagan can now apply for one of five class E licenses to sell meat at the farm gate.

However, RDNO chairperson Patrick Nicol insists the provincial program does little to help the hundreds of producers who have been struggling since a ban on farm gate sales was launched in 2007.

“We have encouraged an increase in the numbers (from five),” he said.

“There needs to be a close examination of this.”

The five licences are part of a pilot project that allows applications  from producers that are normally ineligible because they fall within a  two-hour travel distance of a provincially licensed abattoir.

Local farmers say access to abattoirs has been challenging and many weren’t willing to transport their animals long distances.

Despite his concerns about the government program, Nicol believes five licenses is better than the outright ban before.

“Progress happens incrementally and this is an example of that,” he said.

As part of the program, there will be a code of practice which requires a clean supply of water, a designated dressing area and adequate refrigeration.

The application packages are available at www.agf.gov.bc.ca/polleg/Meat/RDNO_Class_EPilot.html

A first round of decisions on applications will be made by Sept. 13.