Spallumcheen supports small farms and farmers.
With 19 such farmers in attendance at Monday night’s regular meeting, council sent a letter to the provincial Ministry of Health demanding changes to meat regulations it believes has severely hurt local farmers.
“Council will lobby the provincial government to authorize unlimited Class D and E slaughter facility licences within the Township of Spallumcheen, or exempt the township from the Class D and E requirements completely,” read a motion proposed by township staff, and unanimously endorsed by council (Coun. Rachael Ganson was absent).
According to one farmer, a Class D licence allows for the 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.
However, according to farmer Andrea Gunner, D licenses are only allowed in 10 designated regional districts, and the Regional District of North Okanagan is not considered one of them by the government.
And, according to Gunner, Class E licences are only issued in cases where an operator demonstrates a clear need for additional slaughter capacity, or requires services that are not available through an existing Class A, B, or C facility (e.g., species-specific slaughter or specialty slaughter services such as certified organic, halal, or kosher).
No Class E licenses have been awarded in the RDNO despite more than 30 applications made, including for species-specific slaughter (for example, ducks) not currently available.
“The township’s small farmers have been negatively impacted with regards to regulations regarding slaughter facilities that are designated for larger farm operations,” wrote the township in its letter to the health ministry.
“The cost for our small farmers does not allow for them to make a realistic income off of small farm operations.”
Several Spallumcheen farmers have also applied for a Class A licence, which allows general slaughter and processing.
Bev Torrens, a former Spallumcheen councillor who has spearheaded a petition campaign aimed at making changes to help small former, is grateful for council’s help.
“We appreciate everything you’re doing,” said Torrens.
The intent of the letter is to make sure local farmers’ concerns are acknowledged and addressed at a provincial level.
“Spallumcheen is a community that is small in population and rich in agricultural land,” read the letter.
The Regional District of North Okanagan will also throw its support behind lobbying for provincial changes.