Victory for Haida Gwaii meat producers

  • Apr. 30, 2010 12:00 p.m.

Haida Gwaii farmers will be allowed to slaughter and sell meat to farmgate customers with a new type of licence, but other remote, rural areas are still stuck searching for a licensed slaughter house. Amendments to the Province’s Meat Inspection Regulations will create two new categories of licences, according to a news release put out by the Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport on April 23. The two new licence categories allow livestock producers, who are without reasonable access to licensed slaughter facilities, to slaughter their animals and sell the meat directly to consumers. One licence also permits geographically restricted retail sales. The new class of licence allows farm gate sales only in Bella Coola, Powell River Regional District and Haida Gwaii. Both licences restrict the amount of meat farmers are allowed to produce annually. North Coast MLA Gary Coons says the new licences are a victory for Haida Gwaii, but continuing to outlaw farm gate sales in the rest of BC is illogical. Mr. Coons has been fighting for three years to turn the Meat Inspection regulations around and this is a step in the right direction. The NDP agriculture critic is also confused. “If the BC Liberals are willing to admit that it’s safe to buy meat from local farmers on Haida Gwaii or in Powell River, then why isn’t safe in Saanich or Kamloops?” said NDP agriculture critic Lana Popham. The Meat Inspection regulations were introduced in 2004 to ensure food safety in the meat processing. Now several levels of licensing exist for slaughter operations. In 2009, a transition strategy helped support operators who were working towards meeting the licensed slaughterhouse regulations and several million has been spent to help facilities meet these regulations. Ms Popham said that countless farmers went out of business after the Liberals brought in the original legislation. She says the Liberals are creating even more chaos with this decision. Minister of Healthy Living and Sport Ida Chong says Bella Coola, Powell River and Haida Gwaii were chosen as they participated in the consultation that helped develop the concept.