Province pushed over meat rules

A local politician insists farms are being abandoned because of provincial meat regulations.

A local politician insists farms are being abandoned because of provincial meat regulations.

Rural Lumby director Rick Fairbairn discussed rules that prohibit farm gate meat processing with Health Minister Michael de Jong during last week’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver.

“I told him that the status of agriculture in the North Okanagan is at a crisis level,” said Fairbairn.

“People are losing their farms and leaving the area. We have a social and economic concern about this.”

It has previously been suggested that North Okanagan farmers could access Class E licenses, which allows for the on-farm slaughter of a small number of animals annually for direct sales to local consumers.

“There have been no E licenses issued and I questioned why this had happened,” said Fairbairn of his meeting with de Jong and senior ministry staff.

Fairbairn also demanded that the ministry provide updates to farmers on the status of the meat processing regulations.

“The minister has said he will discuss the issue with our MLA to let the community know where the matter stands,” said Fairbairn.

The Regional District of North Okanagan has opposed the meat regulations since they were first implemented in 2007.

Fairbairn says the lack of action on the part of the government may be a result of Victoria being focused on the HST and ministers changing duties.

“There’s been a lack of leadership towards ministry staff.”

In late 2010, RDNO distributed a video developed by farmers Shelley and Buffy Baumbrough. The video pushed for class E licenses in the North Okanagan.