Promises absent over meat rules

Regional District of North Okanagan officials met with Health Minister Michael de Jong to push for changes to provincial meat regulations.

There was no guarantee of meat processing licences being issued.

Regional District of North Okanagan representatives met with Health Minister Michael de Jong Friday to push for changes to provincial meat regulations.

“We made the case for licences. He wants even more information on the market and who’s not being served,” said chairperson Patrick Nicol.

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.

Nicol says he is optimistic the government will amend its policies but he believes it must be soon.

“There has to be some action and it can’t be in the form of another study,” he said.

Director Rick Fairbairn describes the meeting with de Jong in West Kelowna as positive.

“I think he finally gets it and he will huddle with his colleagues and try and find a solution,” said Fairbairn, who is a rancher.