Provincial meat regulations continue to create challenges for North Okanagan farmers.

Provincial meat regulations continue to create challenges for North Okanagan farmers.

Politicians demand meat processing licenses for North Okanagan farmers

Regional district officials expected to meet with Health Minister Michel de Jong

Frustration over provincial meat regulations and the impact on farmers is boiling over.

Regional District of North Okanagan directors are demanding a meeting with Health  Minister Michael de Jong in Kelowna Tuesday over the lack of licenses to process meat since provincial rules came into place in 2007.

“We need to do this immediately,” said Patrick Nicol, board chairperson.

“There are 300 farmers or more adversely impacted by this.”

Nicol, directors Rick Fairbairn and Janice Brown and two farmers will be part of the official delegation.

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.

Brown says the regional district is trying to focus on stimulating the local economy, but the provincial regulations are hurting those efforts.

“We’ve gone from 1,200 to 300 producers and we’re losing them daily,” she said.

Brown won’t speculate on what may come out of the meeting with de Jong.

“We can just go and plead our case,” she said.

In a related matter, RDNO will provide $5,900 to the Food Action Society.

The society will use the money to update its local food directory and to produce a printable version. There is also the possibility of a summer student being hired to promote the directory to the public.