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Posted: June 4, 2019

Recommendations aim to improve local meat production

The provincial government June 3 announced it intends to respond to all the recommendations from the Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food’s report on improving local meat production in British Columbia.

All 21 of the committee’s recommendations have been accepted by the B.C. government. Since the report was released last fall, the ministry has made progress on implementing the recommendations.

“We are fortunate to have committed local meat producers and processors in communities throughout the province,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “They are amazing people supporting their local economies and providing food security. I want to thank the committee for its thorough review and for providing a concise road map on ways we can continue to support and strengthen the sector.”

The report provided recommendations on B.C.’s meat producing and processing industries, focusing on industry growth, abattoir licensing and developing a strong, skilled workforce. Progress has been made on several fronts, including:

* developing and launching food safety and animal welfare training workshops for rural producers and processors, as well as regional health authority inspectors, with $290,000 to the BC Food Processors Association;

* providing $148,000 to support ongoing work by the BC Association of Abattoirs to provide humane slaughter training for Class A and B abattoirs, and to help develop and improve food safety and sanitation procedures at these facilities;

* reducing travel time restrictions to one hour between Class A/B licensed facilities and Class E licensed facilities to help alleviate local slaughter capacity challenges and increase local livestock production;

* seeking public input on new Class D licence regions to help alleviate regional or sub-regional slaughter capacity challenges and increase local livestock production;

* conducting a comprehensive multi-phase slaughter capacity study for B.C. in collaboration with the BC Association of Abattoirs, which will serve as a baseline for future reviews of the B.C. Meat Inspection program;

* featuring local meat products as part of the Buy BC program;

* increasing the ministry’s budget to support Grow BC, Feed BC and Buy BC initiatives that increase capacity for this sector;

* improving cross-ministry co-ordination, collaboration and communication; and

* continuing ministry staff engagement with local governments on their needs for local meat production.

“The committee’s recommendations were based on extensive feedback we received after travelling to five communities and hearing 50 presentations from British Columbians around the province,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, committee chair and MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “It is great to see that all of the recommendations have been accepted, and I want to thank all of the local farmers, producers and processors who took the time to speak to us as we looked at ways to strengthen the local meat industry in B.C.”

The Select Standing Committee on Agriculture, Fish and Food conducted a public consultation on local meat production from May 16 to June 15, 2018. The committee travelled throughout the province speaking with local residents and ensuring there were opportunities for interested parties to participate.

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